The Quantum Brain

A Multidimensional Quantum Orchestra Between our Ears?

TL; DR :: Offering just below the drive-through window for those who have to keep moving on a Friday. Following—the summary of the A QUANTUM COMPUTER BRAIN, created by the GhostReader AI function within my curation tool called Readwise:

The meeting of neurosciences and quantum physics has led to a theory that the human brain network is full of geometrical structures operating in many dimensions, which may exist as a field surrounding the brain in a parallel universe.

Scientists have attempted to explain the neural mechanisms by quantum theory and search for similarities between the human brain and the quantum computer. Some believe that consciousness is not confined to the physical brain and that it exists in a field surrounding the brain, which shares information with the brain through quantum entanglement.

Recently, a team of neuroscientists from the Blue Brain Project discovered that neural networks in the brain contain a surprisingly elevated number of cliques that might conduct to its size as a high-dimensional geometric object.

A Quantum Computer Brain?

This information comes along many months since I first became interested in the role that quantum biology might play in the phenomenon of consciousness. This is a developing field of study I will continue to follow. I confess that It is far too broad and deep to fully sink into most lay-person brains like mine.

Science Gets Weird

As woo-woo as it might sound, the idea of “non-locality” or quantum entanglement may apply to neurons (or their microtubules according to some). These early findings may lend support to the recently-resurrected but ancient notion of panpsychism. The idea proposes that consciousness is a “foundational property” of the universe, and that it is a process mediated by but not originating in the physical brain itself.

This notion was promoted by two well-known scientists, Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff (and more than a few others, since).

In the mid-1990s Stuart Hameroff, anesthesiologist, professor, and director of the Center for Consciousness Studies, The University of Arizona, and Roger Penrose, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford put forward a new brain theory, known as Orch-OR (Orchestrated Objective Reduction). They suggest that quantum processes play an important role in human consciousness.

At the root of the Penrose-Hameroff theory, there are some tiny protein structures inside the brain cells, called microtubules, whose key role is to organize the form and function of a cell.

They suggest that microtubules allow neurons and the brain to function as a whole, performing operations like a quantum computer.

“…The origin of consciousness reflects our place in the universe, the nature of our existence. Did consciousness develop from complex computations among brain neurons, as most scientists assert? Or has consciousness, in some sense, been here all along, as spiritual approaches maintain?” ask Hameroff and Penrose in Physics of Life Reviews.

Other research finds that complex higher-dimensional geometries exist as “sandcastles that materialize and disintegrate on a constant basis in the conscious brain. There may be much more to thinking and remembering and feeling and knowing–in our multi-dimensional quantum orchestra, as the authors describe the brain in action.

Back in the Saddle Again

So having just returned yesterday from a very rare three-day excursion that included a 75 year old boney booty sitting on a mountain bike for 4 hours, I am back among the spinning-plates vaudeville act that is my life. This is one of several other topics I try to stay apace with. Good to be back in the saddle (but NOT on that un-natural and anatomically-incorrect bicycle seat!)

Additional reading (for the purpose of tying topics together in my own mind.) YMMV.

Are Microtubules the Brain of the Neuron?

Cliques of Neurons Bound into Cavities Provide a Missing Link between Structure and Function

The Human Brain Is Capable of Building Structures With Up to 11 Dimensions

Panpsychism Is Crazy, but It’s Also Most Probably True

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Very exciting! Roughly 15 years ago I read an interview in my favorite literary magazine, The Sun, about the fact that there were several experiments which were evidence for consciousness being located outside our physical brain. It fascinated me so much that I kept that article in my inbox until I moved in 2019. I wish I still had it.

  2. The study of consciousness is probably the most challenging problem of modern science. Here is a response from ChateGPT to the question of what are the methods of studying consciousness:
    • Introspection and report: This method involves asking subjects to describe their conscious experiences verbally or in writing, either during or after the experience. This method can provide rich and subjective data, but it also has limitations such as reliability, validity, memory biases, and verbalization difficulties. Introspection and report can also influence the conscious state itself by directing attention or changing awareness 1.
    • Behavioral measures: This method involves observing and recording subjects’ responses to stimuli or tasks that require conscious processing, such as reaction time, accuracy, discrimination, recognition, etc. This method can provide objective and quantifiable data, but it also has limitations such as interpretation, inference, confounding factors, and individual differences. Behavioral measures can also influence the conscious state itself by altering arousal or motivation 1.
    • Neurophysiological measures: This method involves recording subjects’ brain activity using various techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), etc. This method can provide precise and dynamic data, but it also has limitations such as complexity, noise, correlation vs causation, and ethical issues. Neurophysiological measures can also influence the conscious state itself by inducing stimulation or interference 1.
    • Computational models: This method involves simulating subjects’ cognitive processes using mathematical or computational algorithms that mimic neural networks or information processing systems. This method can provide abstract and generalizable data, but it also has limitations such as simplification, validation, realism, and relevance. Computational models can also influence the conscious state itself by providing feedback or guidance 1.
    “These methods are not mutually exclusive and can be combined or integrated to study consciousness from different angles and levels. However, each method also has its own assumptions and challenges that need to be addressed carefully and critically. Studying consciousness is not an easy task, but it is a fascinating and rewarding one.”

    Jon Lieff states “Some think that microtubules are quantum computers and the seat of consciousness”. But he provides no reference. The statement is so vague and unverifiable that it must be regarded as speculative. However, the Blue Brain Project is an in depth look at the brain, but as far as I can tell they make no claim to understanding consciousness.

    Perhaps we should defer to Buddhists for an explanation of consciousness: (from ChatGPT)

    According to Buddhism, consciousness (viññ??a) is one of the five classically defined experiential aggregates (Pali: khandha; Skt.: skandha) that constitute a sentient being1. The other four aggregates are form, feeling, perception, and volitional formations1. Consciousness is not a single entity, but a network of eight types of consciousnesses, each corresponding to a different sensory or mental domain2. The eight consciousnesses are:
    • The five sense consciousnesses: eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body consciousnesses that cognize the essential nature of sensory objects23.
    • The mental consciousness: the sixth consciousness that cognizes the essential nature of mental objects and interprets the data from the sense consciousnesses23.
    • The defiled mental consciousness: the seventh consciousness that is afflicted with four basic defilements: the view of individuality, the conceit ‘I am’, clinging to self and delusion24.
    • The storehouse consciousness: the eighth and fundamental consciousness that stores the impressions of previous experiences, which form the seeds of future karma in this life and in the next after rebirth24.
    Buddhism teaches that consciousness is impermanent, dependently originated, and devoid of a self or inherent soul. Consciousness arises and ceases in response to various causes and conditions, such as contact with sensory objects, mental formations, and karmic seeds. Consciousness is also influenced by mental afflictions (kleshas) and latent tendencies (anusayas) that obscure its true nature. The ultimate goal of Buddhism is to attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death (samsara) by eliminating ignorance (avidya) and realizing the true nature of reality (prajna).