Discovery of quantum vibrations in 'microtubules' inside brain neurons supports controversial theory

#1
Hi folks,

Apologies if this has been posted here already....
I appreciate the age of the article (1 yo+)

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116085105.htm

A review and update of a controversial 20-year-old theory of consciousness claims that consciousness derives from deeper level, finer scale activities inside brain neurons. The recent discovery of quantum vibrations in "microtubules" inside brain neurons corroborates this theory, according to review authors. They suggest that EEG rhythms (brain waves) also derive from deeper level microtubule vibrations, and that from a practical standpoint, treating brain microtubule vibrations could benefit a host of mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions.
Can anyone shed some light here? There is something going on at the microtubule level.

What theory does this support? The filter model? What about the metaphysical stance?

Thank you in advance because as a layperson I struggle to get a full grasp of this theory
 
#2
They seem to think that non-cognitive, proto-conscious events are naturally occurring and that biology found a way to take advantage of them to obtain a survival advantage and it evolved in to the consciousness we experience.

The pdf of the referenced paper is here:

http://ac.els-cdn.com/S157106451300...t=1425984713_be2942e99b78d3d0ecec6ef5ba48271a

Consciousness in the universe
A review of the‘ OrchOR’ theory
Stuart Hameroffa ... Roger Penrose ...
... August 2013
...
Orch OR links consciousness to processes in fundamental space–time geometry.
...
The DP form of OR is related to the fundamentals of quantum mechanics and space–time geometry, so Orch OR suggests that there is a connection between the brain's biomolecular processes and the basic structure of the universe. Here we review Orch OR in light of criticisms and developments in quantum biology, neuroscience, physics and cosmology. We also introduce a novel suggestion of ‘beat frequencies’ of faster microtubule vibrations as a possible source of the observed electro-encephalographic (‘EEG’) correlates of consciousness. We conclude that consciousness plays an intrinsic role in the universe.​


After rejecting dualism, idealism and panpsychism they go on to describe their own ideas:

Consciousness results from discrete physical events; such events have always existed in the universe as non-cognitive, proto-conscious events, these acting as part of precise physical laws not yet fully understood. Biology evolved a mechanism to orchestrate such events and to couple them to neuronal activity, resulting in meaningful, cognitive, conscious moments and thence also to causal control of behavior. These events are proposed specifically to be moments of quantum state reduction (intrinsic quantum “self-measurement”). Such events need not necessarily be taken as part of current theories of the laws of the universe, but should ultimately be scientifically describable. This is basically the type of view put forward, in very general terms, by the philosopher A.N. Whitehead [9] and [10] and also fleshed out in a scientific framework in the Penrose–Hameroff theory of ‘orchestrated objective reduction’ (‘Orch OR’ [11], [12], [13], [14], [15] and [16]). In the Orch OR theory, these conscious events are terminations of quantum computations in brain microtubules reducing by Diósi–Penrose ‘objective reduction’ (‘OR’), and having experiential qualities. In this view consciousness is an intrinsic feature of the action of the universe.​

They say that human consciousness cannot be the result of computation.

In 1989 Penrose published The Emperor's New Mind [23], which was followed in 1994 by Shadows of the Mind [24]. Critical of the viewpoint of ‘strong artificial intelligence’ (‘strong AI’), according to which all mental processes are entirely computational, both books argued, by appealing to Gödel's theorem and other considerations, that certain aspects of human consciousness, such as understanding, must be beyond the scope of any computational system, i.e. ‘non-computable’. Non-computability is a perfectly well-defined mathematical concept, but it had not previously been considered as a serious possibility for the result of physical actions. The non-computable ingredient required for human consciousness and understanding, Penrose suggested, would have to lie in an area where our current physical theories are fundamentally incomplete, though of important relevance to the scales that are pertinent to the operation of our brains. The only serious possibility was the incompleteness of quantum theory—an incompleteness that both Einstein and Schrödinger (and also Dirac) had recognized, despite quantum theory having frequently been argued to represent the pinnacle of 20th century scientific achievement. This incompleteness is the unresolved issue referred to as the ‘measurement problem’, which we consider in more detail below, in Section 4.3. One way to resolve it would be to provide an extension of the standard framework of quantum mechanics by introducing an objective form of quantum state reduction—termed ‘OR’ (objective reduction), an idea which we also describe more fully below, in Section 4.3 [92], [93], [94] and [95].
Nevertheless they suggest consciousness is the result of quantum computations performed by microtubules in brain cells

Penrose [23] and [24] suggested that consciousness depends in some way on processes of the general nature of quantum computations occurring in the brain, these being terminated by some form of OR. Here the term ‘quantum computation’ is being used in a loose sense, in which information is encoded in some discrete (not necessarily binary) physical form, and where the evolution is determined according to the U process (Schrödinger's equation).
...
A proposal was made in Penrose [23] that something analogous to quantum computing, proceeding by the Schrödinger equation without decoherence, could well be acting in the brain, but where, for conscious processes, this would have to terminate in accordance with some threshold for self-collapse by a form of non-computable OR. A quantum computation terminating by OR could thus be associated with consciousness.
...
Penrose and Hameroff teamed up in the early 1990s when, fortunately, the DP form of OR mechanism was then at hand to be applied in extending the microtubule–automata models for consciousness as had been developed by Hameroff and colleagues.
Their model seems to provide a mechanism for presentiment

Measurable brain activity correlated with a conscious perception of a stimulus generally occurs several hundred milliseconds after that stimulus. Yet in activities ranging from rapid conversation to competitive athletics, we respond to a stimulus (seemingly consciously) before the above activity that would be correlated with that stimulus occurs in the brain. This is interpreted in conventional neuroscience and philosophy [1], [2] and [3] to imply that in such cases we respond non-consciously, on auto-pilot, and subsequently have only an illusion of conscious response. The mainstream view is that consciousness is epiphenomenal illusion, occurring after-the-fact as a false impression of conscious control of behavior. Accordingly, we are merely ‘helpless spectators’ [146].

Indeed that might be the case. However, quantum processes in the brain offer what appear to be loopholes to such implications, where the apparent temporal progression of conscious experience and willed action need not correlate in a clear-cut way with the precise timings of an external clock. In the 1970s neurophysiologist Benjamin Libet performed experiments on patients having brain surgery while awake, i.e. under local anesthesia [147]. Able to stimulate and record from conscious human brains, and gather patients' subjective reports with precise timing, Libet determined that conscious perception of a stimulus required up to 500 ms of brain activity post-stimulus, but that conscious awareness occurred at 30 ms post-stimulus. The brain at 30 ms ‘knew’ that activity would continue, or not continue, for several hundred more milliseconds, i.e. that subjective experience was referred ‘backward in time’. Numerous other experiments have also provided strong indications of temporal anomalies in perception and willed choice [148], [149] and [150].
Reference 148 is a well known paper on presentiment.

D.J. Bem Feeling the future: experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on cognition and affect J Pers Soc Psychol, 100 (2012), pp. 407–425
Here is how they see the evolution of consciousness occurring:
The following scenario seems plausible. As organic biomolecules appeared in primitive biology, non-polar collections of electron resonance rings, e.g. in lipids, nucleotides, and hydrophobic protein pockets, offered protective isolation for quantum superpositions (as described in Section 5.3). As biomolecules became larger and more functional, quantum states in non-polar regions persisted, delaying the environmental interactions which serve to increase EGE
G
and thereby cause OR. As biomolecules self-organized into assemblies such as
microtubules, more extensive and organized quantum-superposed states became available which could better maintain isolation from the random environment, and could then interact cooperatively by entanglement so as to process information in some form of primitive quantum computing . Initially such quantum computing would fail to isolate sufficiently, and the various ‘EGE
G
’s would be insufficient to achieve OR threshold without the
randomness of environmental entanglement, Nevertheless, these processes might still achieve effects not easily accessible by classical computing, and provide non-conscious, but still useful information processing. Only with further evolutionary development, better isolation, and ‘orchestration’, was OR reached without environmental decoherence, allowing for Orch OR to play its vital role.
They discuss the cosmological implications of their theory:
The recently proposed cosmological scheme of conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC) (Penrose [174], Gurzadyan and Penrose [175]) also has some relevance to these issues. CCC posits that what we presently regard as the entire history of our universe, from its Big-Bang origin (but without inflation) to its indefinitely expanding future, is but one aeon in an unending succession of similar such aeons, where the infinite future of each matches to the big bang of the next via an infinite change of scale. A question arises whether the dimensionless constants of the aeon prior to ours, in the CCC scheme, are the same as those in our own aeon, and this relates to the question of whether sentient life could exist in that aeon as well as in our own. Could the dimensionless constants change with each successive aeon, might they perhaps ‘mutate’ and evolve to optimize consciousness? Could evolution over aeons thereby account for the anthropic principle? Smolin [176] has suggested an idea that is somewhat similar to this, but in his scheme, the drive of selective advantage would be for more black holes and baby universes, rather than for consciousness or even for life. Nevertheless, the question of the constancy of these numbers is in principle answerable by observation in CCC, and this issue could have a bearing on the extent or validity of the Orch OR proposal. If Orch OR turns out to be correct, in its essentials, as a physical basis for consciousness, then it opens up the possibility that many questions may become answerable, such as whether life and consciousness could have come about in an aeon prior to our own, that would have previously seemed to be far beyond the reaches of science.

Moreover, Orch OR places the phenomenon of consciousness at a very central place in the physical nature of our universe, whether or not this ‘universe’ includes aeons other than just our own. It is our belief that, quite apart from detailed aspects of the physical mechanisms that are involved in the production of consciousness in human brains, quantum mechanics is an incomplete theory. Some completion is needed, and the DP proposal for an OR scheme underlying quantum theory's R-process would be a definite possibility. If such a scheme as this is indeed respected by Nature, then there is a fundamental additional ingredient to our presently understood laws of Nature which plays an important role at the Planck-scale level of space–time structure. The Orch OR proposal takes advantage of this, suggesting that conscious experience itself plays such a role in the operation of the laws of the universe.
I don't see this theory as having much impact on anyone's pre-existing beliefs. It would need to be extended to explain the evidence for the afterlife and the evidence for all forms of ESP. Some people have speculated that this theory could explain some of that evidence but I don't think the authors of the theory have done so. They imply it might explain the fine tuning of the universe to support life but they don't speculate on how non-cognitive proto-conscious events could do that.

Their theory is a long way from being proved so materialists, dualists, and idealists have no reason to take it seriously. The authors propose it because they feel it can theoretically explain certain phenomenon but they lack experimental evidence that it really does explain those phenomena. Until there is some evidence it is just another theory. But if it gets materialists to expand their view of what is possible under known science then it could be a good thing. Also, I think it is possible that consciousness interfaces with the brain through quantum interactions - so this type of theoretical work is not necessarily useless.
 
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#3
After rejecting dualism, idealism and panpsychism they go on to describe their own ideas:

Consciousness results from discrete physical events; such events have always existed in the universe as non-cognitive, proto-conscious events, these acting as part of precise physical laws not yet fully understood. Biology evolved a mechanism to orchestrate such events and to couple them to neuronal activity, resulting in meaningful, cognitive, conscious moments and thence also to causal control of behavior. These events are proposed specifically to be moments of quantum state reduction (intrinsic quantum “self-measurement”). Such events need not necessarily be taken as part of current theories of the laws of the universe, but should ultimately be scientifically describable. This is basically the type of view put forward, in very general terms, by the philosopher A.N. Whitehead [9] and [10] and also fleshed out in a scientific framework in the Penrose–Hameroff theory of ‘orchestrated objective reduction’ (‘Orch OR’ [11], [12], [13], [14], [15] and [16]). In the Orch OR theory, these conscious events are terminations of quantum computations in brain microtubules reducing by Diósi–Penrose ‘objective reduction’ (‘OR’), and having experiential qualities. In this view consciousness is an intrinsic feature of the action of the universe.
It seems though that dualism may be the closest to their stance doesn't it?
 
#5
It seems though that dualism may be the closest to their stance doesn't it?
I wouldn't say that. I don't think it can really be related to dualism or idealism because their fundamental thing is non-cognitive proto-conscious events and you don't get real consciousness or intelligence until biology takes over.
 
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#6
Also, does this discovery support more or less the brain as a filter model??
I don't think it really supports the filter model because you don't have real consciousness until you have biology. In their theory there must be a brain to produce real consciousness from naturally occurring non-cognitive proto-conscious events.
 
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#7
Also, I think it is possible that consciousness interfaces with the brain through quantum interactions - so this type of theoretical work is not necessarily useless.
I think that is very important. It seems intuitively obvious to me that there must be an as yet understood mechanism by which quantum effects such as indeterminacy, non-locality, etc can interface with the relative "solidity" of our deterministic bodies. The Orch OR theory is the only one I know of that proposes such a mechanism. I think that Sheldrake's fields and morphic resonance will be found in the 5th dimension and interface with massed matter on quantum scales.

It is my understanding that current methods of attempting to create AI utilize only 4D deterministic processes. Although such AI might become extremely powerful, I think it will always lack the quality of consciousness without a 5D interface mechanism such as our brains must have. For this reason I think the singularitarians are a bit too optimistic about the future merging of AI and human intelligence. Until this mechanism is discovered, I think the dream of merging human consciousness into a machine brain is pie in the sky.

Parapsychology has amassed plenty of evidence for phenomena that violate the standard classical models of consciousness. I think they should shift focus onto developing, validating, or falsifying theories such as this one.
 
#10
Isn't this an unwarranted assumption? Some cases of healing and various feats such as endurance or survival would lead to the conclusion that our bodies are not deterministic, but can be influenced by mind, whether our own, or in the case of healing, perhaps the mind(s) of others.
I don't disagree that our bodies can be influenced by mind(s), but the bodily processes that are within the realm of current understanding seem to be deterministic. The phenomena you mention such as healing or astounding feats are examples of the mind-body interaction that currently outside the realm of understanding (which is why they are largely ignored by the mainstream). The more massive an object, the less it seems to have characteristics of the quantum universe and the more it seems to have characteristics of classical deterministic physics. For massive objects the 5th dimension seems to be curled up at the planck length, but perhaps for a field that is massless (mind) the 5th dimension can stretch out beyond the planck length. Our bodies being massive objects typically follow classical deterministic models. But since this is not always the case, there must be an underlying mechanism or mechanisms by which quantum level 5D+ behaviors (where the mind is hypothesized to dwell) are amplified to affect massive bodies - whether those massive bodies be microtubules in cells or a whole limb or organ that miraculously heals itself. Once this mechanism is discovered, it is no longer such a leap for the materialists to accept that these phenomena do occur.
 
#11
In the second video Hammeroff suggests their theory might explain the afterlife. I wish they would elaborate on that. How do they think consciousness can exist without a brain and without idealism, dualism, or panpsycism being true.
 
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#13
Hameroff (second video in post #12 of this thread, starting at 11 minutes):

I think that consciousness happens in the brain in microtubules but in the space time geometry that's associated with microtubules and its actually a process in fundamental space time geometry. We know about near death experineces and out of body experiences and I was asked about this and according to our theory it's possible that when the blood stops flowing, the oxygen stops being delivered, that the quanutm coherence can persist in the microtubules and then when the microtubules fall apart can dissapate to the universe at large non locally but remain entangled as one entity by entanglement as sort of the quantum soul. So this was a plausibility argument for the possibility of an afterlife. If the patient's revived, the quantum soul, if you will, goes back inside the brain and the patient had an out of body near death experience if not, there could be reincarnation or indefinite existence in space time geometry which is non local. I'm not arguing that this exists I don't have the proof or evidence for afterlife or any of this but I think it's plausible ... until science in general can explain consciousness in the brain we can't rule out consciousness out of the brain.
I think its great there there is a mainstream scientist saying these things, and also saying that the best answer to the hard problem is that consciousness is fundamental.
 
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#14
Curious. Would consciousness existing apart from the body but using such microtubules to interface with the physical not look the same? I am not sure it invalidates either model necessarily. Apologies if this has already been addressed?
 
#15
My main disagreement with the theory is that I think consciousness is not part of the physical universe of space time. It seems to me the fine tuning requires a transcendent creator. They need to elaborate how they think consciousness influences the fine tuning. Also idealism explains how you can get matter from "nothing" - matter is only imagined. Also I don't see how quantum effects can explain telepathy even if you could entangle two brains (entangling two large objects a macroscopic distance apart is not plausible as far as I know), the structures in one brain would not have any meaning to the structures in another brain because neuron connections develop differently in different individuals and are constantly changing due to neuroplasticity. I also don't understand why it is plausible that quantum coherence would persist after death and remain entangled as one entity.


I think they like the idea that consciousness is part of the physical universe because they feel that only then is it is within the realm of science.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1571064513001188

In summary, we have:
(A)
Science/Materialism, with consciousness having no distinctive role [1], [2], [3], [4] and [5].
(B)
Dualism/Spirituality, with consciousness (etc.) being outside science [6], [7] and [8].
(C)
Science, with consciousness as an essential ingredient of physical laws not yet fully understood [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], [16] and [17].
Hameroff Penrose theory falls within C

I don't agree science is necessarily limited to the physical universe. We all are conscious and therefore have the ability to study consciousness wherever it might be.
 
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#16
the only thing i don't like is that hameroff is collaborating with Deepak chopra
There may be a good reason behind that. Rudolph Tanzi who's a leading researcher on Alzheimer has also teamed up with Chopra.
Chopra gets the publicity and, though to me he doesn't know what he's talking about or appears like a charlatan to some, you can be sure that if you are with him you're in the limelight.
If the likes of Dawkins or Myers hadn't self proclaimed themselves gatekeepers of science there wouldn't be such situation.
Palling around with guys like Chopra helps get people's attention, and if you get the attention you get traction which can potentially pull out science from the intertia it is in.
 
#17
Hameroff (second video in post #12 of this thread, starting at 11 minutes):

I think that consciousness happens in the brain in microtubules but in the space time geometry that's associated with microtubules and its actually a process in fundamental space time geometry. We know about near death experineces and out of body experiences and I was asked about this and according to our theory it's possible that when the blood stops flowing, the oxygen stops being delivered, that the quanutm coherence can persist in the microtubules and then when the microtubules fall apart can dissapate to the universe at large non locally but remain entangled as one entity by entanglement as sort of the quantum soul. So this was a plausibility argument for the possibility of an afterlife. If the patient's revived, the quantum soul, if you will, goes back inside the brain and the patient had an out of body near death experience if not, there could be reincarnation or indefinite existence in space time geometry which is non local. I'm not arguing that this exists I don't have the proof or evidence for afterlife or any of this but I think it's plausible ... until science in general can explain consciousness in the brain we can't rule out consciousness out of the brain.
I think its great there there is a mainstream scientist saying these things, and also saying that the best answer to the hard problem is that consciousness is fundamental.
Sounds awfully like dualism to me...

Btw love your quote Jim ;)
 
#18
My main disagreement with the theory is that I think consciousness is not part of space time. It seems to me the fine tuning requires an transcendent creator. Also I don't see how quantum effects can explain telepathy even if you could entangle two brains (entangling two large objects a macroscopic distance apart is not plausible as far as I know), the structures in one brain would not have any meaning to the structures in another brain because neuron connections develop differently in different individuals and are constantly changing due to neuroplasticity.

They need to elaborate how they think consciousness influences the fine tuning.
A lot of research has to be ignored or explained away to eliminate telepathy and post-mortem communications.
 
#19
Hi folks,

Apologies if this has been posted here already....
I appreciate the age of the article (1 yo+)

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116085105.htm



Can anyone shed some light here? There is something going on at the microtubule level.

What theory does this support? The filter model? What about the metaphysical stance?

Thank you in advance because as a layperson I struggle to get a full grasp of this theory
Old news + it can't account for how the "sexy strip-tease ritual oscillations vibrations " or dances lol of neurons or ensemble of neurons at the level of microtubules , it cannot account for how consciousness/ awareness can "arise " from that, no way .
There is no way that the qualitative subjective experiential personal qualia or subjective experiences can arise from the impersonal mindless quantitative neuronal correlates of consciousness , no way .

Correlation does not necessarily imply causation either.

The materialist identity or production theory in relation to consciousness and its brain is just an act of faith , no scientific theory .The same goes for the so-called emergent property theory regarding consciousness and its brain, period.
 
#20

Their theory is a long way from being proved so materialists, dualists, and idealists have no reason to take it seriously. The authors propose it because they feel it can theoretically explain certain phenomenon but they lack experimental evidence that it really does explain those phenomena. Until there is some evidence it is just another theory. But if it gets materialists to expand their view of what is possible under known science then it could be a good thing. Also, I think it is possible that consciousness interfaces with the brain through quantum interactions - so this type of theoretical work is not necessarily useless.
http://www.elsevier.com/about/press...roversial-20-year-old-theory-of-consciousness

After 20 years of skeptical criticism, "the evidence now clearly supports Orch OR," continue Hameroff and Penrose. "Our new paper updates the evidence, clarifies Orch OR quantum bits, or "qubits," as helical pathways in microtubule lattices, rebuts critics, and reviews 20 testable predictions of Orch OR published in 1998 – of these, six are confirmed and none refuted."
 
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