A derided 1990s hypothesis of consciousness may have gotten new life, according to a review in Physics of Life Reviews, which claims that consciousness derives from deeper level, finer scale activities inside brain neurons.

Nothing controversial about that, right? Indeed there isn't, but the problem with these is always the same; if Leonardo da Vinci wrote something hundreds of years ago that might be construed to be about the Internet, he didn't invent the Internet, and finding consciousness physically someday does not mean a particular claim is validated, but the authors of a new review, Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose, do just that, stating that  quantum vibrations in "microtubules" inside brain neurons corroborates this hypothesis, called "orchestrated objective reduction", by mathematician Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford, and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, MD, of Anesthesiology, Psychology and Center for Consciousness Studies at The University of Arizona, Tucson.

To be valid, the mechanisms have to be correct also, that is what a theory is; saying quantum mechanics will lead to understanding consciousness is not science, but the authors fit studies to match their beliefs, and say EEG rhythms (brain waves) 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.

Penrose and Hameroff claimed that quantum vibrational computations in microtubules were "orchestrated" ("Orch") by synaptic inputs and memory stored in microtubules, and terminated by Penrose "objective reduction" ('OR'), hence "Orch OR." Microtubules are major components of the cell structural skeleton.

Their speculation was harshly criticized from its inception, as the brain is considered too "warm, wet, and noisy" for delicate quantum processes. Newer papers have suggested warm quantum coherence in plant photosynthesis, bird brain navigation, our sense of smell, and brain microtubules. The recent claim of discovering warm temperature quantum vibrations in microtubules inside brain neurons by Anirban Bandyopadhyay, PhD, of the National Institute of Material Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan suggests that EEG rhythms also derive from deeper level microtubule vibrations, say the review authors. They also list the work of Roderick G. Eckenhoff, MD, at the University of Pennsylvania, who suggests that anesthesia, which selectively erases consciousness while sparing non-conscious brain activities, acts via microtubules in brain neurons.

"The origin of consciousness reflects our place in the universe, the nature of our existence. Did consciousness evolve 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 the current review. "This opens a potential Pandora's Box, but our theory accommodates both these views, suggesting consciousness derives from quantum vibrations in microtubules, protein polymers inside brain neurons, which both govern neuronal and synaptic function, and connect brain processes to self-organizing processes in the fine scale, 'proto-conscious' quantum structure of reality."

"The evidence now clearly supports Orch OR," they claim. "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."


Well, there you go. They managed to do a review and couldn't find a single paper that contradicted a speculative claim derided by scientists. That's the mark of quality.

They also introduced a new angle: Microtubule quantum vibrations (e.g. in megahertz) appear to interfere and produce much slower EEG "beat frequencies" - this can't be disputed by science because despite a century of clinical use, the underlying origins of EEG rhythms are a mystery, so their claim is as good as any. Clinical trials of brief brain stimulation aimed at microtubule resonances with megahertz mechanical vibrations using transcranial ultrasound claimed improvements in mood.

Lead author Stuart Hameroff goes for broke, "Orch OR is the most rigorous, comprehensive and successfully-tested theory of consciousness ever put forth. From a practical standpoint, treating brain microtubule vibrations could benefit a host of mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions."

 "Microtubules and the Big Consciousness Debate" was presented at the Brainstorm Sessions at the Brakke Grond in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, January 16-18th, 2014, where they also coupled microtubule vibrations from active neurons to play Indian musical instruments. "Consciousness depends on anharmonic vibrations of microtubules inside neurons, similar to certain kinds of Indian music, but unlike Western music which is harmonic," Hameroff explained.


People in psychology love Eastern mysticism and culture. Science has no explanation for that.