Quantum Vibrations Evidence For Theory Of Consciousness?
    By News Staff | February 2nd 2014 10:31 AM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    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.


    Quite possible

    C'mon, just have the guts to tell the people that humans are specially designed to produce free energy for the Great Designer/ Creator/God/ Budda..doh, I've lost count to the debilitating names. The ridiculous part is that we are paying for the energy that Earth produces for free. The fictive science I regularly receive in my email can't do anything about it. Now, that's cognitive.

    ..because once the energy is for free the whole industries in the whole world will starts developing.

    Writing "a speculative claim derided by scientists" is embracing the fallacy of authority. What matters is evidence and arguments, not who is presenting them. Nor does the mocking tone of this article have any place in science. Also, "People in psychology love Eastern mysticism and culture"? Neither Hameroff nor Penrose is a psychologist. As for the second paragraph about Leonardo, the analogy is strained. Leonardo sketched heavier-than-air flying machines. Did he "invent" them? Well, he at least came close enough to deserve some credit. Similarly Babbage drew complete plans for a mechanical computer, but didn't finish building one. Did he "invent" the computer? Most people say he did. It's a grey area.

    Neither Hameroff nor Penrose is a psychologist.
    No one said they were, but if an anesthesiologist and a mathematician claim to have unlocked the secret to mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions, that is a psychological claim. It certainly isn't a science one.
    Curious, Hank. Your category of "science" doesn't include "psychology"? I believe you'll find that Hameroff and Penrose are both more concerned with, and in more frequent conversation with, neuroscience than with the broad range of disciplines that goes under the label "psychology." For instance, Hameroff knows Christof Koch well (for background on Koch see and Although their theories on the grounding of consciousness in neurology differ, there's a great deal of respect between them, and Christof will be at Hameroff's conference in Tucson this April. Hameroff and Penrose have at the center of their claim a computational role for microtubules. That's a testable scientific claim. Anaesthetics have been shown to bind with microtubules, thus an anesthesiologist's interest in how that would lead to a reduction in consciousness. That's reasonable grounds for their hypothesis. Penrose is a mathematical physicist specializing in quantum physics and relativity. Surely consciousness, like everything else, has to ultimately be based on the laws of physics, unless you believe that something mystical exists that's outside of them? Since Penrose also has strong credentials as a philosopher of science, I'll take his word that he is doing science over Campbell's claim that Penrose is doing "Eastern mysticism."