On the quantum theory of consciousness

 

Figure 1. Brain neuron axon showing the network of microtubules. | Credit: Hameroff & Penrose (2014).
Figure 1. Brain neuron axon showing the network of microtubules. | Credit: Hameroff & Penrose (2014).

The Penrose–Hameroff theory of orchestrated objective reduction (Orch OR) claims that quantum computations in the brain account for consciousness 1. The communication among neurons by the secretion of neurotransmitters is based on synaptic vesicles distributed along their axons. The neuronal cytoskeleton has a key role in the dynamics of these vesicles. In the 1990s, Stuart Hameroff, psychologist at the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA, and Roger Penrose, mathematical physicist at the University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, proposed that microtubules, the smallest units of the cytoskeleton, are channels for the transfer of the integrated quantum information responsible for consciousness.

The cell cytoplasm is like an over-crowded dance floor at disco. The cytoskeleton strongly interacts with water molecules, metabolites, and moving proteins (like kinesins). These interactions are structural, signaling, and sometimes to orient the internal cytoskeleton. There is no known mechanism for protecting microtubules (rigid tubes made of the tubulin protein) from decoherence, the environmentally-induced destruction of quantum coherence, the unavoidable coupling of a quantum system with the environment. Quantum computing requires quantum coherence in order to use superpositions of quantum states to solve certain problems much more quickly than its classical counterpart. Without a protecting mechanism, the role of quantum computation in microtubules in the emergence of consciousness recalls to me water memory, Benveniste’s proposal to explain the mechanism by which homeopathic remedies work 2.

Figure 2. A tentatively proposed picture of a conscious event by quantum computing in one microtubule. | Credit: Hameroff & Penrose (2014).
Figure 2. A tentatively proposed picture of a conscious event by quantum computing in one microtubule. | Credit: Hameroff & Penrose (2014).

Hameroff’s ideas in the hands of Penrose have developed almost to absurdity. There is no justification to the incorporation in the Orch OR theory of consciousness the Diósi–Penrose scheme for objective reduction of the quantum state 34. The tentative role of gravity in quantum state reduction (the so-called wavefunction collapse), by means of the Schrödinger–Newton equation, only introduces noise in the presentation of the Orch OR theory and distracts from its most important points. I will not discuss here the ideas of Diósi–Penrose explaining quantum measurements by means of the instability of quantum superpositions involving significant mass displacements.

The prevalent scientific view is that consciousness emerged as a property of biological organisms during the course of evolution. It is a beneficial adaptation that confers a survival advantage to conscious species. However, Orch OR theory claims that consciousness is an intrinsic feature of the action of the non-computable universe. Because humans are capable of knowing the truth of Gödel-unprovable statements, the Penrose–Lucas argument states that human thought is necessarily non-computable 5. However, the computational power of a quantum computer is exactly the same as a classical one, as proved in 1985 by Oxford University physicist David Deutsch. Quantum Turing machines are equivalent to (Classical) Turing machines, even if certain NP problems can be made efficient using quantum algorithms. In my opinion, to recur to the ‘magic’ of non-computability is not the best route to a scientific solution of the problem of consciousness.

Microtubules are part of the cytoskeleton of all eukaryotic cells, however consciousness is the result of neurons in the cerebral cortex. Microtubules are cylindrical polymers of 25 nanometers in diameter made of tubulin dimers, composed of alpha and beta monomers in a helical pathway. In 1982, Hameroff and Watt 6 suggested that tubulin dimers act as dipoles representing information (classical) bits of information. Microtubules act like two-dimensional Boolean switching matrices in a cellular automata. Early versions of Orch OR theory proposed a quantum version of these ideas: tubulin dimers acting as qubits (quantum bits). A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact.

Figure 3. Upward (left) and downward (right) dipole ‘5-start’ helix in a microtubule. Their quantum superposition is the proposed qubit. |Credit: Hameroff & Penrose (2014).
Figure 3. Upward (left) and downward (right) dipole ‘5-start’ helix in a microtubule. Their quantum superposition is the proposed qubit. |Credit: Hameroff & Penrose (2014).

Experimental results by Jeffrey R. Reimers et al. 7, and others8, have shown that microtubules can neither sustain long-lived quantum states nor support quantum information processing associated with tubulin dimers as qubits. The whole set of original ideas by Hameroff and Penrose have been killed by Nature. There is no quantum coherence over the required time scale. Electronic motion in tubulin dimers is in the range of 10 fs to 30 ps, while Orch OR theory needs quantum coherence on the 25 ms timescale. Without a decoherence protection system, similar to the one used in photosynthesis, quantum computing in microtubules is not plausible.

If your theoretical ideas are refuted by experiments, don’t worry, be happy, you only have to change your theory in order to escape current evidence. Hameroff and Penrose confess that the early version of Orch OR theory, published mainly from 1996 to 1998, is only a schematic cartoon version where tubulin dipoles act as qubits 9. In an effort to perpetuate the Orch OR model against experimental evidence, the new version of the Orch OR theory [1] uses as qubits the so-called ‘quantum channels’ (helical dipole pathways within the microtubule lattices). The helical pathway, akin to a ‘topological qubit’, was introduced in 2002 into Orch OR theory, after the structure of tubulin was elucidated by electron crystallography. Topological quantum computation in the brain appears to be a very suggestive approximation to the problem of consciousness. But the analogy between the quantum braids proposed in topological quantum computation in 1997 and the helical pathways of the Orch OR is extremely difficult to see for a physicist and computer scientist like me.

In my opinion, the new version of Orch OR theory, using as qubits the mesoscopic helical pathways of many tubulins in microtubule lattices, is even more unbelievable than the early version. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Reimers et al. [6] states that Orch OR theory cannot be treated seriously without a precise description of the quantum states of the qubits, how these states become entangled, and a means of achieving quantum coherence over the required time scale.

Figure 4. 2D sheet of tubulin dimers fold into a single microtubule (top). STM images (bottom) of a single tubulin dimer (left) and a single microtubule (right). | Credit: Satyajit Sahua et al. (2013).
Figure 4. 2D sheet of tubulin dimers fold into a single microtubule (top). STM images (bottom) of a single tubulin dimer (left) and a single microtubule (right). | Credit: Satyajit Sahua et al. (2013).

Like the claimed scientific evidence supporting homeopathy, Hameroff and Penrose [1] highlights the apparent quantum coherence up to 100 microseconds in single microtubules measured at warm temperature by the research group of Anirban Bandyopadhyay at the National Institute for Material Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan 1011. They claim that these results provide the first experimental validation of the Orch OR theory. However, Bandyopadhyay et al. 12 have measured quantum coherence in microtubule nanowire with and without water inside its channel. The changes of the coherence time between both cases are so small that I suspect that they are the result of some systematic errors not taking into account. Moreover, the claim of Hameroff and Penrose [1] that the measured coherence time is 250 times briefer than the 25 ms invoked for Orch OR events appears as pure numerology. Recall that the 25 ms signal corresponds to the 40 Hz gamma waves recorded in neural activity by using electroencephalography during some conscious perception experiments. I must recognize that my opinion is biased, but the yet to be reproduced results of the group of Bandyopadhyay reminds me Benveniste’s water memory.

The crucial validation or falsification of Orch OR theory must come from experimentation. The current “gold standard” in neuroscience is fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), but its spatial and temporal resolutions are not enough. Orch OR theory has been criticized repeatedly since its inception. Hameroff and Penrose admit that their brain’s microtubules at the interface between neurophysiology and quantum gravity are very speculative. They explicitly write that “the actual mechanisms underlying the production of consciousness in a human brain will be very much more sophisticated than any that we can put forward at the present time, and would be likely to differ in many important respects from any that we would be in a position to anticipate in our current proposals” [1].

Quantum biology is a hot topic, but its role in light harvesting in photosynthesis, magnetoreception, enzyme catalysis, or even DNA mutations, is far away from that in Orch OR theory. To be a detailed, testable, falsifiable, and reasonably rigorous approach to a theory of consciousness a new and mature version of the theory is needed. In my opinion, Orch OR is not a promising route to the nature of consciousness. Life is born out of “warm, wet & noisy” systems. Consciousness is like the Schrödinger’s cat of neuroscience.

References

  1. Stuart R. Hameroff, Roger Penrose, “Consciousness in the universe: A review of the ‘Orch OR’ theory,” Physics of Life Reviews 11: 39-78, 2014, doi: 10.1016/j.plrev.2013.08.002.
  2. Elisabeth Davenas et al., “Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE,” Nature 333: 816-818, 1988, doi: 10.1038/333816a0.
  3. Lajos Diósi, “A universal master equation for the gravitational violation of the quantum mechanics,” Physics Letters A 120: 377-381, 1987, doi: 10.1016/0375-9601(87)90681-5
  4. Roger Penrose, “On Gravity’s role in Quantum State Reduction,” General Relativity and Gravitation 28: 581-600, 1996, doi: 10.1007/BF02105068.
  5. Roger Penrose, “The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and The Laws of Physics,” Oxford University Press, 1989, ISBN 0-19-851973-7.
  6. Stuart R. Hameroff, Richard C. Watt, “Information processing in microtubules,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 98: 549-561, 1982, doi: 10.1016/0022-5193(82)90137-0.
  7. Jeffrey R. Reimers et al., “The revised Penrose–Hameroff orchestrated objective-reduction proposal for human consciousness is not scientifically justified: Comment on “Consciousness in the universe: A review of the ‘Orch OR’ theory” by Hameroff and Penrose,” Physics of Life Reviews11: 101–103 (2014); doi:10.1016/j.plrev.2013.11.003
  8. L. K. McKemmish et al., “Penrose–Hameroff orchestrated objective-reduction proposal for human consciousness is not biologically feasible,” Physical Review E 80: 021912 (2009); doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.80.021912.
  9. Stuart Hameroff, Roger Penrose, “Reply to criticism of the ‘Orch OR qubit’ – ‘Orchestrated objective reduction’ is scientifically justified,” Physics of Life Reviews11: 104–112 (2014); doi:10.1016/j.plrev.2013.11.014.
  10. Satyajit Sahua et al., “Atomic water channel controlling remarkable properties of a single brain microtubule: Correlating single protein to its supramolecular assembly,” Biosensors and Bioelectronics 47: 141–148, 2013, doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2013.02.050
  11. Satyajit Sahua et al., “Multi-level memory-switching properties of a single brain microtubule,” Applied Physics Letters 102: 123701, 2013, doi: 10.1063/1.4793995
  12. Subrata Ghosh, Satyajit Sahua, Anirban Bandyopadhyay, “Evidence of massive global synchronization and the consciousness: Comment on “Consciousness in the universe: A review of the ‘Orch OR’ theory” by Hameroff and Penrose,” Physics of Life Reviews11: 83-84 (2014); doi:10.1016/j.plrev.2013.10.007.

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Richard GriffithsRichard Griffiths

I’m not convinced by this text that you’ve done justice to taking apart the theory in question. I’ve followed this topic as a layman for a couple of years now and found the revised theory much more coherent in its answer to criticisms than many of the debunk style texts I’ve seen since.

A fairer treatment appears in this paper submitted as a partial thesis:wm.edu/as/physics/documents/seni…s_Amanda.pdf

It doesn’t support the theory, instead holds a sensible objective view and explores the theory in more depth and range.

My takeaway from your own article is a number of cliches including a comparison to homeopathy and its theoretical memory of water idea as well as the rusty old barb, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

I fail to see how a theory examining possibilities for microtubule quantum information processing requires extraordinary proof; mere proof, repeatable and reproducible would surely be enough?

Also adjusting a theory in light of evidence is normal scientific progress surely? If the theory doesn’t predict the observations, you either have to adapt it or even throw it out if there is a better theory. It’s not a fault that Penrose et al. modify and refine their work but correct behaviour.

A good theory does stand a lot of critiquing, solid, reasoned and should be demolished or not by experimental proof. My only concern with Orch-R is it may suffer due to both supporters and detractors failing this standard because of implied spiritual consequences.

This would be a disservice to scientific investigation as emotional reasoning from both camps could overshadow actual scientific work in the wider public mind.

My own bias is to feel there is something real to it but feelings don’t make facts, for or against, and the evidence is not conclusive enough to support my own bias, nor is it sufficient for the opposite.

Yet. 🙂

FrancisFrancis

Thanks for your comment, Richard.

I’ve read the BS thesis in Physics by Amanda L. Collins summarizing the paper by Hameroff & Penrose. Obviously, as a summary, she copies the statements of their paper without additional criticism. No new information appears in her summary. I recommend to you the reading of the original sources (the paper of Hameroff & Penrose); and the other papers cited in my post that present experimental and theoretical results against the extraordinary hypothesis of Hameroff & Penrose.

“I fail to see [Orch OR) requires extraordinary proof; mere proof.” The current knowledge on quantum chemistry is enough to estimate decoherence time in microtubules in the cytoplasm environment. Moreover, there are experiments showing that these estimates are precise. Hameroff & Penrose states that these microscopic evidence against Orch OR can be addressed by extraordinary mesoscopic phenomena beyond current theoretical and experimental reach. Obviously, their recourse to extraordinary phenomena requires extraordinary proofs, i.e., proofs against the current theoretical and experimental knowledge.

Your own bias in favour of Orch OR is based on feelings and opinions. Science develops on observations, experiments and theories. Every scientist must accept that evidence against its theory is an indication that his theory should be abandoned.

Bests,
Francis

Stuart HameroffStuart Hameroff

Francis said
“The current knowledge on quantum chemistry is enough to estimate decoherence times of microtubules in the cytoplasm environment”

Stuart
If you’re referring to Tegmark, he was refuted theoretically (Hagan et al, 2001) and experimentally (Sahu et al, 2013a; 2013b; 2014). The current knowledge a few years ago said quantum coherence in photosynthesis is impossible.

The major mistake among so-called experts in these areas is not considering non-polar pi resonance regions shielded from charges in the polar cytoplasmic environment. See Craddock et al in Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry 2015. The ‘quantum underground’ is defined by the Meyer-Overton correlation for anesthetic action. It took an anesthesiologist (me) and world class physicist (Penrose) to figure out consciousness and quantum biology.

The ignorance on this list is in you guys.

Stuart HameroffStuart Hameroff

See my replies in [brackets]
The Penrose–Hameroff theory of orchestrated objective reduction (Orch OR) claims that quantum computations in the brain account for consciousness 1. The communication among neurons by the secretion of neurotransmitters is based on synaptic vesicles distributed along their axons. [neurons also communicate by gap junctions] The neuronal cytoskeleton has a key role in the dynamics of these vesicles. In the 1990s, Stuart Hameroff, psychologist [I’m an anesthesiologist with a joint appointment in Psychology] at the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA, and Roger Penrose, mathematical physicist at the University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, proposed that microtubules, the smallest units of the cytoskeleton [microtubules are actually the largest components of the cytoskeleton], are channels for the transfer of the integrated quantum information responsible for consciousness. [Not quite. We say microtubules are the site of orchestrated quantum computations which terminate by Penrose objective reduction which result in moments of consciousness which regulate neuronal activities. This occurs primarily in dendrites and soma, thus being able to trigger, or not trigger axonal firings and control behavior]
The cell cytoplasm is like an over-crowded dance floor at disco.
[all dancing to the coherent beat of microtubule vibrations in a fractal hierarchy of scales: terahertz, gigahertz, megahertz, kilohertz, hertz]
The cytoskeleton strongly interacts with water molecules, metabolites, and moving proteins (like kinesins). [on the surface, yes, though the water is ordered. But the quantum coherence originates in non-polar regions within the proteins, shielded and isolated from ions and charges. This is the quantum underground, defined by the Meyer-Overton correlation where anesthetics act to erase consciousness.] These interactions are structural, signaling, and sometimes to orient the internal cytoskeleton. There is no known mechanism for protecting microtubules (rigid tubes made of the tubulin protein) from decoherence, the environmentally-induced destruction of quantum coherence, the unavoidable coupling of a quantum system with the environment. [Bullshit. The quantum states arise in pi resonance channels in the non-polar quantum underground. Microtubules may be somewhat rigid compared to other structures but have resonance vibrations which act to promote quantum coherence, just like vibrations in plant proteins promote quantum coherence] Quantum computing requires quantum coherence in order to use superpositions of quantum states to solve certain problems much more quickly than its classical counterpart. Without a protecting mechanism, the role of quantum computation in microtubules in the emergence of consciousness recalls to me water memory, Benveniste’s proposal to explain the mechanism by which homeopathic remedies work. [what we’re talking about occurs in non-polar regions, away from water. Benveniste’s work is irrelevant (though never really refuted]

Figure 2. A tentatively proposed picture of a conscious event by quantum computing in one microtubule. | Credit: Hameroff & Penrose (2014).
Hameroff’s ideas in the hands of Penrose have developed almost to absurdity [Screw you] There is no justification to the incorporation in the Orch OR theory of consciousness the Diósi–Penrose scheme for objective reduction of the quantum state. [Why not?] The tentative role of gravity in quantum state reduction (the so-called wavefunction collapse), by means of the Schrödinger–Newton equation, only introduces noise in the presentation of the Orch OR theory and distracts from its most important points. [OR does not introduce random noise, but influence by non-computable Platonic values, violating the Born rule…what are Orch OR’s most important points in your view?] I will not discuss here the ideas of Diósi–Penrose explaining quantum measurements by means of the instability of quantum superpositions involving significant mass displacements. [Why not? If you say its wrong, show that you have a clue what youre talking about]
The prevalent scientific view is that consciousness emerged as a property of biological organisms during the course of evolution. [Yes, the prevalent scientific view is an assumption which can’t explain or define consciousness, nor explain the origin of life, nor even evolution really. In my opinion its all wrong. What evidence can you cite?] It is a beneficial adaptation that confers a survival advantage to conscious species. [That’s what ‘they’ say, but ‘they’ also say consciousness is epiphenomenal. These are incongruent positions] However, Orch OR theory claims that consciousness is an intrinsic feature of the action of the non-computable universe. [we say ‘proto-consciousness’ by OR is the intrinsic feature. For consciousness, OR must be orchestrated. But consciousness is connected to the structure of the universe] Because humans are capable of knowing the truth of Gödel-unprovable statements, the Penrose–Lucas argument states that human thought is necessarily non-computable 5. However, the computational power of a quantum computer is exactly the same as a classical one, as proved in 1985 by Oxford University physicist David Deutsch. Quantum Turing machines are equivalent to (Classical) Turing machines, even if certain NP problems can be made efficient using quantum algorithms. [I don’t think this is true…Shor’s algorithm? Google is showing enhanced search speed with quantum computing] In my opinion, to recur to the ‘magic’ of non-computability is not the best route to a scientific solution of the problem of consciousness. [There is no other route. No other theory works. Today’s ‘magic’ is tomorrow’s fact]
Microtubules are part of the cytoskeleton of all eukaryotic cells, however consciousness is the result of neurons in the cerebral cortex. [dendritic-somatic microtubules in pyramidal cortical neurons. Such microtubules are uniquely arrayed in mixed polarity networks giving rise to interference beats] Microtubules are cylindrical polymers of 25 nanometers in diameter made of tubulin dimers, composed of alpha and beta monomers in a helical pathway. In 1982, Hameroff and Watt 6 suggested that tubulin dimers act as dipoles representing information (classical) bits of information. Microtubules act like two-dimensional Boolean switching matrices in a cellular automata. Early versions of Orch OR theory proposed a quantum version of these ideas: tubulin dimers acting as qubits (quantum bits). A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact. [There is no fact, ugly or otherwise which disproves Orch OR]

Figure 3. Upward (left) and downward (right) dipole ‘5-start’ helix in a microtubule. Their quantum superposition is the proposed qubit. |Credit: Hameroff & Penrose (2014).
Experimental results by Jeffrey R. Reimers et al. 7, and others8, have shown that microtubules can neither sustain long-lived quantum states nor support quantum information processing associated with tubulin dimers as qubits. [Bullshit. They showed no such thing. See your reference 9] The whole set of original ideas by Hameroff and Penrose have been killed by Nature. [Bullshit. Sahu et al showed quantum resonances as long as 10^-4 sec] There is no quantum coherence over the required time scale. Electronic motion in tubulin dimers is in the range of 10 fs to 30 ps, [wrong again. Electron motions on a whole microtubule are much slower] while Orch OR theory needs quantum coherence on the 25 ms timescale. [We did say that, but now say we only need quantum coherence for 10^-7 secs with interference beats resulting in EEG frequency events like 25 ms. As much longer coherence times have already been shown, we’re in excellent agreement with experimental evidence. Please get the facts straight if you’re going to criticize them]Without a decoherence protection system, similar to the one used in photosynthesis, quantum computing in microtubules is not plausible. [It’s very similar to photosynthesis in which chromophores play the role of the non-polar quantum underground. We say that in our most recent paper]
If your theoretical ideas are refuted by experiments, don’t worry, be happy, you only have to change your theory in order to escape current evidence. Hameroff and Penrose confess that the early version of Orch OR theory, published mainly from 1996 to 1998, is only a schematic cartoon version where tubulin dipoles act as qubits. [No, we said the cartoon is a misrepresentation of Orch OR. The conformational flexing in those cartoons is what is incorrect, however ALL calculations were based on conformational changes, and superposition, of the diameter of atomic nuclei in femtometers. Get your facts straight. You’re swallowing Reimers’ et al bullshit. See our reply to their criticism] In an effort to perpetuate the Orch OR model against experimental evidence, [Orch OR is consistent with experimental evidence. What evidence contradicts it?] the new version of the Orch OR theory [1] uses as qubits the so-called ‘quantum channels’ (helical dipole pathways within the microtubule lattices). The helical pathway, akin to a ‘topological qubit’, was introduced in 2002 into Orch OR theory, after the structure of tubulin was elucidated by electron crystallography. Topological quantum computation in the brain appears to be a very suggestive approximation to the problem of consciousness. But the analogy between the quantum braids proposed in topological quantum computation in 1997 and the helical pathways of the Orch OR is extremely difficult to see for a physicist and computer scientist like me. [Its not topological in the strict sense, but geometric, ‘akin to topological’, taking advantage of microtubule vibrational resonances. Maybe you should study biology]
In my opinion, the new version of Orch OR theory, using as qubits the mesoscopic helical pathways of many tubulins in microtubule lattices, is even more unbelievable than the early version. [Why? You said you don’t understand it, so how can you say its wrong?] Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. [We have it – see Sahu et al, Emerson et al…in our Review. In any case, a few years ago the idea that plants could use quantum coherence at ambient temperatures would have been considered ludicrous. If a potato can do it, probably even your brain’s microtubules can as well] Reimers et al. [6] states that Orch OR theory cannot be treated seriously without a precise description of the quantum states of the qubits, how these states become entangled, and a means of achieving quantum coherence over the required time scale. [See our response to Reimers et al where we answer every complaint and explain the Orch OR qubit in detail]

Figure 4. 2D sheet of tubulin dimers fold into a single microtubule (top). STM images (bottom) of a single tubulin dimer (left) and a single microtubule (right). | Credit: Satyajit Sahua et al. (2013).
Like the claimed scientific evidence supporting homeopathy, Hameroff and Penrose [1] highlights the apparent quantum coherence up to 100 microseconds in single microtubules measured at warm temperature by the research group of Anirban Bandyopadhyay at the National Institute for Material Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan [what does that have to do with homeopathy? In any case, 100 microseconds of quantum coherence is more than enough] 1[What They claim that these results provide the first experimental validation of the Orch OR theory. However, Bandyopadhyay et al. 12 have measured quantum coherence in microtubule nanowire with and without water inside its channel. The changes of the coherence time between both cases are so small that I suspect that they are the result of some systematic errors not taking into account. [the quantum coherence originates in the non-polar quantum channel within the microtubule wall, not in the water – we disagree with Bandyopadhyay’s interpretation but not his results] Moreover, the claim of Hameroff and Penrose [1] that the measured coherence time is 250 times briefer than the 25 ms invoked for Orch OR events appears as pure numerology. Recall that the 25 ms signal corresponds to the 40 Hz gamma waves recorded in neural activity by using electroencephalography during some conscious perception experiments. [We’re saying EEG including gamma synchrony are ‘beat frequencies’ of faster microtubule dynamics. That’s another revolutionary statement which answers a lot of questions previously unanswered] I must recognize that my opinion is biased, but the yet to be reproduced results of the group of Bandyopadhyay reminds me Benveniste’s water memory. [Your biased opinion remind me of the Pope’s objections to Galileo]
The crucial validation or falsification of Orch OR theory must come from experimentation. The current “gold standard” in neuroscience is fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), but its spatial and temporal resolutions are not enough. [fMRI has other problems, for example fMRI images of subjects having vivid mental states under psilocybin are cold and dark – consciousness is at a deeper level] Orch OR theory has been criticized repeatedly since its inception. [generally on the basis of the brain being too warm, wet and noisy for quantum coherence, all shown false by now. Orch OR has more evidence in its favor than all other theories of consciousness combined] Hameroff and Penrose admit that their brain’s microtubules at the interface between neurophysiology and quantum gravity are very speculative. They explicitly write that “the actual mechanisms underlying the production of consciousness in a human brain will be very much more sophisticated than any that we can put forward at the present time, and would be likely to differ in many important respects from any that we would be in a position to anticipate in our current proposals” [1]. [so what’s wrong with that?]
Quantum biology is a hot topic, but its role in light harvesting in photosynthesis, magnetoreception, enzyme catalysis, or even DNA mutations, is far away from that in Orch OR theory. [none of those were known when we started Orch OR 21 years ago] To be a detailed, testable, falsifiable, and reasonably rigorous approach to a theory of consciousness a new and mature version of the theory is needed. [You just criticized us for evolving and changing Orch OR as new knowledge came to light. Which is it? Or are you planning to develop a new and mature version after trashing us?] In my opinion, Orch OR is not a promising route to the nature of consciousness. [Its a free world and you can think what you want but I haven’t seen any valid objections from you] Life is born out of “warm, wet & noisy” systems. [I don’t think so. In a paper in press I suggest life originated in non-polar coalescences of pi resonance clouds in the primordial soup, leading to Oparin micelles. OR provided primitive feelings which were the spark of life and drove evolution] Consciousness is like the Schrödinger’s cat of neuroscience. [I have no idea what that means. Schrodinger’s cat is a thought experiment, and impossible because the ~ 1kg cat would reach OR threshold in times so brief its ridiculous. Consciousness is not impossible. But thanks for the criticism. Its better to be criticized than ignored, even when the criticism is bogus.]

References
1 Stuart R. Hameroff, Roger Penrose, “Consciousness in the universe: A review of the ‘Orch OR’ theory,” Physics of Life Reviews 11: 39-78, 2014, doi: 10.1016/j.plrev.2013.08.002. ↩
2 Elisabeth Davenas et al., “Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE,” Nature 333: 816-818, 1988, doi: 10.1038/333816a0. ↩
3 Lajos Diósi, “A universal master equation for the gravitational violation of the quantum mechanics,” Physics Letters A 120: 377-381, 1987, doi: 10.1016/0375-9601(87)90681-5 ↩
4 Roger Penrose, “On Gravity’s role in Quantum State Reduction,” General Relativity and Gravitation 28: 581-600, 1996, doi: 10.1007/BF02105068. ↩
5 Roger Penrose, “The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and The Laws of Physics,” Oxford University Press, 1989, ISBN 0-19-851973-7. ↩
6 Stuart R. Hameroff, Richard C. Watt, “Information processing in microtubules,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 98: 549-561, 1982, doi: 10.1016/0022-5193(82)90137-0. ↩
7 Jeffrey R. Reimers et al., “The revised Penrose–Hameroff orchestrated objective-reduction proposal for human consciousness is not scientifically justified: Comment on “Consciousness in the universe: A review of the ‘Orch OR’ theory” by Hameroff and Penrose,” Physics of Life Reviews11: 101–103 (2014); doi:10.1016/j.plrev.2013.11.003 ↩
8 L. K. McKemmish et al., “Penrose–Hameroff orchestrated objective-reduction proposal for human consciousness is not biologically feasible,” Physical Review E 80: 021912 (2009); doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.80.021912. ↩
9 Stuart Hameroff, Roger Penrose, “Reply to criticism of the ‘Orch OR qubit’ – ‘Orchestrated objective reduction’ is scientifically justified,” Physics of Life Reviews11: 104–112 (2014); doi:10.1016/j.plrev.2013.11.014. ↩
10 Satyajit Sahua et al., “Atomic water channel controlling remarkable properties of a single brain microtubule: Correlating single protein to its supramolecular assembly,” Biosensors and Bioelectronics 47: 141–148, 2013, doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2013.02.050 ↩
11 Satyajit Sahua et al., “Multi-level memory-switching properties of a single brain microtubule,” Applied Physics Letters 102: 123701, 2013, doi: 10.1063/1.4793995 ↩
Subrata Ghosh, Satyajit Sahua, Anirban Bandyopadhyay, “Evidence of massive global synchronization and the consciousness: Comment on “Consciousness in the universe: A review of the ‘Orch OR’ theory” by Hameroff and Penrose,” Physics of Life Reviews11: 83-84 (2014); doi:10.1016/j.plrev.2013.10.007

FrancisFrancis

Thanks, Prof. Hameroff, for your long and detailed commentary.

Being an anesthesiologist you probably know that current models explaining the general anaesthetic action are based on neural membrane interaction; you are the only one claiming that the interaction of the great diversity of general anaesthetics with microtubules has a role.

There is a big difference between quantum coherence in microtubules and in photosynthetic antenna proteins. In plant photosynthesis subpicosecond quantum coherence is enough to increase efficienty of energy transport. But for brain quantum computing in microtubules such time scale is unconvincing. The protection against decoherence requires the minimization of environment interactions; the biochemical structure of photosynthetic proteins shows such a mechanism; however, in microtubules there water molecules flowing inside and outside their cylinder shape. Without a clear and efficient protection mechanism there cannot be quantum coherence in scales larger that subpicoseconds (submicrosecond coherence is truly inconceivable).

If you think that the mathematical theorem by David Deutsch (1985) on the equivalence between (classical) Turing machines and quantum Turing mahines is not true, and he do not deserves his Dirac Prize 1998, I think that you must study quantum computer science. Shor’s algorithm and similar algorithms only show that quantum computers can solve efficiently (BQP) a few NP problems. You cite recent news on Google’s QuAIL team, which used a D-Wave X2 machine, but you forget that it is not a quantum computer; in my opinion, your citation clearly indicates to me that your knowledge in quantum computation must be refreshed.

You say that your ideas only need quantum coherence for submicroseconds. However, even back-of-the-envelope calculations show that quantum coherence over a microtuble made of more than 100 tubulins, with alpha and beta dimers each containing nearly 8500 atoms, are extremely implausible.

You claim that there is an excellent agreement between your proposal with experimental evidence. However, currently, such a claim is only your personal opinion (and that of a few researchers following your wake).

You say that, maybe, I must study biology. I agree (even if I am lecturer in bioinformatics). But, in my opinion, you must study quantum computer science.

Bests regards,
Francis

Stuart HameroffStuart Hameroff

Francis
Thanks, Prof. Hameroff, for your long and detailed commentary.

Francis
Being an anesthesiologist you probably know that current models explaining the general anaesthetic action are based on neural membrane interaction; you are the only one claiming that the interaction of the great diversity of general anaesthetics with microtubules has a role.

Stuart
First, current models based on membrane protein interactions do NOT explain anesthetic action. They just show binding. My claims about microtubules are based on Eckenhoff’s work showing proteomic, genomic and optogenetic evidence of anesthetic effects on microtubules. As far as the diversity of anesthetics (I prefer the Americanized anesthetic rather than British anaesthetic since it is an American inventions), the Meyer-Overton correlations shows they all act in a non-polar solubility region akin to olive oil, based on pi resonance bonds. The key point is that the Meyer-Overton correlation points to regions supportive of quantum effects. Anesthetics act in, and consciousness originates from, what we’re calling the Meyer-Overton quantum underground.

Francis
There is a big difference between quantum coherence in microtubules and in photosynthetic antenna proteins.

Stuart
Not really. Both utilize resonance transfer, or excitons between/among pi resonance regions.

Francis
In plant photosynthesis subpicosecond quantum coherence is enough to increase efficienty of energy transport. But for brain quantum computing in microtubules such time scale is unconvincing.

Stuart
Plant proteins are individual proteins and have picosecond, or terahertz activities. Individual tubulin proteins in microtubules also have terahertz vibrations. But larger microtubules composed of many tubulins have slower vibrations in gigahertz, megahertz and kilohertz, with beat frequencies into hertz. This has been shown by Bandyopadhyay’s group as I previously mentioned.

Francis
The protection against decoherence requires the minimization of environment interactions; the biochemical structure of photosynthetic proteins shows such a mechanism; however, in microtubules there water molecules flowing inside and outside their cylinder shape.

Stuart
The quantum underground is within the microtubule wall as we show in our paper, protected from the charges of the polar water regions. Please try and understand what it is you are criticizing.

Francis
Without a clear and efficient protection mechanism there cannot be quantum coherence in scales larger that subpicoseconds (submicrosecond coherence is truly inconceivable).

Stuart
Wrong. Sorry, but the evidence is to the contrary.

Francis
If you think that the mathematical theorem by David Deutsch (1985) on the equivalence between (classical) Turing machines and quantum Turing mahines is not true, and he do not deserves his Dirac Prize 1998, I think that you must study quantum computer science. Shor’s algorithm and similar algorithms only show that quantum computers can solve efficiently (BQP) a few NP problems. You cite recent news on Google’s QuAIL team, which used a D-Wave X2 machine, but you forget that it is not a quantum computer; in my opinion, your citation clearly indicates to me that your knowledge in quantum computation must be refreshed.
Stuart
Read this

Computing News
• 18 comments
Google Says It Has Proved Its Controversial Quantum Computer Really Works
Researchers from Google’s AI Lab say a controversial quantum machine that it and NASA have been testing since 2013 resoundingly beat a conventional computer in a series of tests.
• By Tom Simonite on December 8, 2015

Inside this box is a superconducting chip, cooled to within a fraction of a degree of absolute zero, that might put new power behind artificial-intelligence software.
Google says it has proof that a controversial machine it bought in 2013 really can use quantum physics to work through a type of math that’s crucial to artificial intelligence much faster than a conventional computer.
Governments and leading computing companies such as Microsoft, IBM, and Google are trying to develop what are called quantum computers because using the weirdness of quantum mechanics to represent data should unlock immense data-crunching powers. Computing giants believe quantum computers could make their artificial-intelligence software much more powerful and unlock scientific leaps in areas like materials science. NASA hopes quantum computers could help schedule rocket launches and simulate future missions and spacecraft. “It is a truly disruptive technology that could change how we do everything,” said Rupak Biswas, director of exploration technology at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.
Biswas spoke at a media briefing at the research center about the agency’s work with Google on a machine the search giant bought in 2013 from Canadian startup D-Wave systems, which is marketed as “the world’s first commercial quantum computer.” The computer is installed at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, and operates on data using a superconducting chip called a quantum annealer. A quantum annealer is hard-coded with an algorithm suited to what are called “optimization problems,” which are common in machine-learning and artificial-intelligence software.
However, D-Wave’s chips are controversial among quantum physicists. Researchers inside and outside the company have been unable to conclusively prove that the devices can tap into quantum physics to beat out conventional computers.
Hartmut Neven, leader of Google’s Quantum AI Lab in Los Angeles, said today that his researchers have delivered some firm proof of that. They set up a series of races between the D-Wave computer installed at NASA against a conventional computer with a single processor. “For a specific, carefully crafted proof-of-concept problem we achieve a 100-million-fold speed-up,” said Neven.
Google posted a research paper describing its results online last night, but it has not been formally peer-reviewed. Neven said that journal publications would be forthcoming.
Google’s results are striking—but even if verified, they would only represent partial vindication for D-Wave. The computer that lost in the contest with the quantum machine was running code that had it solve the problem at hand using an algorithm similar to the one baked into the D-Wave chip. An alternative algorithm is known that could have let the conventional computer be more competitive, or even win, by exploiting what Neven called a “bug” in D-Wave’s design. Neven said the test his group staged is still important because that shortcut won’t be available to regular computers when they compete with future quantum annealers capable of working on larger amounts of data.
Matthias Troyer, a physics professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, said making that come true is crucial if chips like D-Wave’s are to become useful. “It will be important to explore if there are problems where quantum annealing has advantages over even the best classical algorithms, and to find if there are classes of application problems where such advantages can be realized,” he said, in a statement with two colleagues.
Last year Troyer’s group published a high-profile study of an earlier D-Wave chip that concluded it didn’t offer advantages over conventional machines. That question has now been partially resolved, they say. “Google’s results indeed show a huge advantage on these carefully chosen instances.”
Google is competing with D-Wave to make a quantum annealer that could do useful work. Last summer the Silicon Valley giant opened a new lab in Santa Barbara, headed by a leading academic researcher, John Martinis (see “Google Launches Effort to Build Its Own Quantum Computer”).
Martinis is also working on quantum hardware that would not be limited to optimization problems, as annealers are. A universal quantum computer, as such a machine would be called, could be programmed to take on any problem and would be much more useful but is expected to take longer to perfect. Government and university labs, Microsoft (see “Microsoft’s Quantum Mechanics”), and IBM (see “IBM Shows Off a Quantum Computing Chip”) are also working on that technology.
John Giannandrea, a VP of engineering at Google who coördinates the company’s research, said that if quantum annealers could be made practical, they would find many uses powering up Google’s machine-learning software. “We’ve already encountered problems in the course of our products impractical to solve with existing computers, and we have a lot of computers,” he said. However, Giannandrea noted, “it may be several years before this research makes a difference to Google products.”
Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that NASA bought the quantum computer with Google. Google bought it and NASA hosts it. The story has also been updated to include comments from Matthias Troyer.
18 comments. Share your thoughts »

Francis
You say that your ideas only need quantum coherence for submicroseconds. However, even back-of-the-envelope calculations show that quantum coherence over a microtuble made of more than 100 tubulins, with alpha and beta dimers each containing nearly 8500 atoms, are extremely implausible.

Stuart
Get a new envelope. The evidence points to submicrosecond coherence

Francis
You claim that there is an excellent agreement between your proposal with experimental evidence. However, currently, such a claim is only your personal opinion (and that of a few researchers following your wake).
You say that, maybe, I must study biology. I agree (even if I am lecturer in bioinformatics). But, in my opinion, you must study quantum computer science.

Stuart
I have. I’m no expert, but Google, Penrose, Bandyopadhyay and others agree with me.

The conventional wisdom used to be that the earth was flat, and the sun revolved around it.

Cheers
Stuart

Bests regards,
Francis

Daniel ManzanoDaniel Manzano

As an active researcher in the field of quantum biology, I want to make a small comment.

As Mr Hameroff says the “Orch OR” hypothesis is much older than current topics of research in quantum biology like quantum coherence in photosynthetic transport, magnetoreception, or quantum tunneling in olfaction. On the other hand, in the Quantum Effects in Biological Systems (QUEBs) workshops there are talks about all these topics and not about Orch OR. This happens because there exist both empirical and theoretical support to the idea of having quantum effects in all these processes, but there is nothing similar regarding quantum effects in the brain.

There are several posts about quantum effects in biological systems in this blog, I recommend Mr. Hameroff to read them to get some insight in what is science and what is not. It can also help to avoid writing nonsense like: “If a potato can do it, probably even your brain’s microtubules can as well”.

Stuart HameroffStuart Hameroff

As an active researcher in the field of quantum biology, I want to make a small comment.
As Mr Hameroff says

SH
[I don’t usually stand on ceremony, but its Professor Hameroff]

the “Orch OR” hypothesis is much older than current topics of research in quantum biology like quantum coherence in photosynthetic transport, magnetoreception, or quantum tunneling in olfaction. On the other hand, in the Quantum Effects in Biological Systems (QUEBs) workshops there are talks about all these topics and not about Orch OR.

SH
So what? The Google Quantum Biology Workshop ~5 years ago included Orch OR. Just because some people are too mentally constipated to not consider the obvious implications of quantum biology is not my fault. In any case, you guys are barking up the wrong tree. Quantum effects originate in the ‘quantum underground’ in non-polar regions characterized by the Meyer-Overton correlation buried inside biomoelcules.

This happens because there exist both empirical and theoretical support to the idea of having quantum effects in all these processes, but there is nothing similar regarding quantum effects in the brain.

SH
Wrong. Bandyopadhyay’s group has shown clear evidence for quantum coherence in microtubules at warm temperature.

There are several posts about quantum effects in biological systems in this blog, I recommend Mr. Hameroff to read them to get some insight in what is science and what is not. It can also help to avoid writing nonsense like: “If a potato can do it, probably even your brain’s microtubules can as well”.

SH
I recommend you read our latest papers, and I stand by that statement, though maybe YOUR brain microtubules remain classical. That would explain your stupidity.

Daniel ManzanoDaniel Manzano

You can believe me Prof. Hameroff if I say that I really read your last paper. The problem is that this time was wasted in a way I didn’t know it was possible (this is not true, I knew it was possible because time ago I watched “What the Bleep Do We Know!?”).

You should really think about your definition of the expression ‘showing clear evidence’.

Stuart HameroffStuart Hameroff

Daniel
You can believe me Prof. Hameroff if I say that I really read your last paper. The problem is that this time was wasted in a way I didn’t know it was possible (this is not true, I knew it was possible because time ago I watched “What the Bleep Do We Know!?”).

Stuart
‘WhattheBleep’ was entertainment and included a lot of silly stuff with which I don’t agree. However i stand by every word I personally said in the film

Daniel
You should really think about your definition of the expression ‘showing clear evidence’.

Stuart
The papers from Bandyopadhyay’s group (Sahu et al 2013a; 2013b; 2014) are admittedly difficult to understand but the experimental findings are clear. In addition to the microtubule resonances in gigahertz, megahertz and kilohertz which could be either quantum or classical, They show 1) conductance in an entire microtubule is greater than through a single tubulin subunit, and 2) that the conductance is temperature independent. These are clear evidence for quantum mechanisms, are they not?.

Stuart HameroffStuart Hameroff

As an active researcher in the field of quantum biology, I want to make a small comment.
As Mr Hameroff says

SH
[I don’t usually stand on ceremony, but its Professor Hameroff]

the “Orch OR” hypothesis is much older than current topics of research in quantum biology like quantum coherence in photosynthetic transport, magnetoreception, or quantum tunneling in olfaction. On the other hand, in the Quantum Effects in Biological Systems (QUEBs) workshops there are talks about all these topics and not about Orch OR.

SH
So what? The Google Quantum Biology Workshop ~5 years ago included Orch OR. Just because some people are too mentally constipated to not consider the obvious implications of quantum biology is not my fault. In any case, you guys are barking up the wrong tree. Quantum effects originate in the ‘quantum underground’ in non-polar regions characterized by the Meyer-Overton correlation buried inside biomoelcules.

This happens because there exist both empirical and theoretical support to the idea of having quantum effects in all these processes, but there is nothing similar regarding quantum effects in the brain.

SH
Wrong. Bandyopadhyay’s group has shown clear evidence for quantum coherence in microtubules at warm temperature.

There are several posts about quantum effects in biological systems in this blog, I recommend Mr. Hameroff to read them to get some insight in what is science and what is not. It can also help to avoid writing nonsense like: “If a potato can do it, probably even your brain’s microtubules can as well”.

SH
I recommend you read our latest papers, and I stand by that statement, though maybe YOUR brain microtubules remain classical. That would explain your stupidity.

Jorge MejiasJorge Mejias

As a physicist and a neuroscientist myself, I’m not convinced at all that, as Prof. Hameroff stated, Orch OR is the only potential explanation of consciousness (and I quote: “There is no other route. No other theory works”).

In my humble opinion, his theory does not work either, at least for the moment. He fails to provide a convincing explanation of consciousness (none of the other candidate theories have succeeded yet, to be fair), and the absence of a bulk of experimental evidence is still a serious problem despite all the efforts. Most well-grounded quantum biology phenomena are openly discussed in every related conference, so the fact that he needs to go back to a conference five years ago doesn’t tell good things about his theory.

Tononi’s theory of consciousness, being also controversial, had much better reception among scientists on both sides of the spectrum –which doesn’t mean Tononi is right, of course, but it tells us that Orch OR is far from being “the only route”.

But I want to go beyond this discussion, to a more important point. Hameroff’s replies to these posts are been tremendously disrespectful at the very least (“maybe YOUR brain microtubules remain classical. That would explain your stupidity”). This type of behavior is improper for someone who asks to be called “Professor”, and is by no means the kind of level of respect that the readers of this blog deserve.

I wouldn’t expect this kind of replies from a well distinguished professor, but from a rude crackpot pursuing fanatic ideas and quantum leopards. Since I’m sure Prof. Hameroff falls into the first category, I have doubts about the true identity of the person involved in this conversation under his name.

Stuart HameroffStuart Hameroff

Jorge
As a physicist and a neuroscientist myself, I’m not convinced at all that, as Prof. Hameroff stated, Orch OR is the only potential explanation of consciousness (and I quote: “There is no other route. No other theory works”).

Stuart
Putting Orch OR aside for the moment, what other theory does work?

Jorge
In my humble opinion, his theory does not work either, at least for the moment. He fails to provide a convincing explanation of consciousness (none of the other candidate theories have succeeded yet, to be fair),

Stuart
If you’re asking for a definition of consciousness, you’re right. There isn’t any. But you know what it is, and I know what it is because we have it. I take it to be what goes away under anesthesia and returns when the anesthetic is gone. We now have excellent evidence this happens through preventing quantum dipole oscillations in brain microtubules (Craddock et al, Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry 2015)

Jorge
and the absence of a bulk of experimental evidence is still a serious problem despite all the efforts.

Stuart
If you’re talking about experimental evidence for Orch OR the relevant experiments are from Bandyopadhyay’s group and the anesthetic actions on microtubules shown by Eckenhoff’s group. So the only two bodies of work aimed at microtubules as the origin of consciousness validate Orch OR.
So I don’t know what you mean by ‘all the efforts’.

Jorge
Most well-grounded quantum biology phenomena are openly discussed in every related conference, so the fact that he needs to go back to a conference five years ago doesn’t tell good things about his theory.

Jorge
Quantum biologists dont invite me because of incorrect opinions such as those expressed here.
We were talking about quantum biology before it was fashionable, before it was thought even possible.

Jorge
Toni’s theory of consciousness, being also controversial, had much better reception among scientists on both sides of the spectrum –which doesn’t mean Tononi is right, of course, but it tells us that Orch OR is far from being “the only route”.

Stuart
Tononi’s integration applied to microtubules yields higher Phi complexity than at the level of neurons, so according to his theory microtubules are the source of consciousness. I agree his view is more politically correct and ours is controversial.

Jorge
But I want to go beyond this discussion, to a more important point. Hameroff’s replies to these posts are been tremendously disrespectful at the very least (“maybe YOUR brain microtubules remain classical. That would explain your stupidity”). This type of behavior is improper for someone who asks to be called “Professor”, and is by no means the kind of level of respect that the readers of this blog deserve.

Stuart
Fair enough, and thats one reason we’re not socially acceptable. But I was responding to a rude and obnoxious dismissal not based on any knowledge or facts. If people are offended, i apologize.

Jorge
I wouldn’t expect this kind of replies from a well distinguished professor, but from a rude crackpot pursuing fanatic ideas and quantum leopards. Since I’m sure Prof. Hameroff falls into the first category, I have doubts about the true identity of the person involved in this conversation under his name.

Stuart
Its me. I spend my time with people’s lives in my hands as an anesthesiologist and tend to respond
brusquely and bluntly. If we’re ready to discuss the science without the dismissive attitude and theassertion that my work reflects ignorance, I’ll be very polite.

Miguel FernandezMiguel Fernandez

I must confess that the recent comments have but derailed into an exchange of racketing offenses. It is a shame, for ‘Hameroff’ (he appears to be well versed in science but lacks humility – cannot tell whether he is or isn’t Hameroff) had successfully refuted the arguments put forth against ‘Orch Or’ by the author and the subsequent commentator.

That being said, the plausibility of ‘Orch Or’ is not to be dismissed and it may yet emerge as a triumphant theorem. Unfortunately, at this point it is but a plausible speculation because our understanding of consciousness is, suffice to say, quite meager.

Stuart HameroffStuart Hameroff

Miguel
I must confess that the recent comments have but derailed into an exchange of racketing offenses. It is a shame, for ‘Hameroff’ (he appears to be well versed in science but lacks humility – cannot tell whether he is or isn’t Hameroff) had successfully refuted the arguments put forth against ‘Orch Or’ by the author and the subsequent commentator.

Stuart
Thank you, and I apologize for being rude. But when we start off from the view that my work is ignorance, its difficult to be polite. Lets talk science.

That being said, the plausibility of ‘Orch Or’ is not to be dismissed and it may yet emerge as a triumphant theorem. Unfortunately, at this point it is but a plausible speculation because our understanding of consciousness is, suffice to say, quite meager.

Stuart HameroffStuart Hameroff

Sorry, this was Miguel’s statement.

Miguel
That being said, the plausibility of ‘Orch Or’ is not to be dismissed and it may yet emerge as a triumphant theorem. Unfortunately, at this point it is but a plausible speculation because our understanding of consciousness is, suffice to say, quite meager.

Stuart
You should come to our conferences (all views welcome) consciousness.arizona.edu

As i said, anesthesia is the best route to understanding consciousness, and evidence points to effects on quantum dipoles in microtubules. We hope to test anesthetic effects on Bandyopadhyay’s quantum resonances in microtubules.

ZachZach

Stuart,
As a layman follower of the many theories of consciousness proposed, I wish to state a couple things. I find it incredibly hypocritical that those who accuse you of using insults in your rebuttals are posters who had instigated the insults by being rude in the first place. While I don’t agree that it is wise to respond to an insult with an insult, I will say this. You (if you are indeed the real Stuart Hameroff) and Penrose have been ridiculed in a less than mature way for nearly twenty years on the basis that your claims are unscientific. Instead of properly debating, they, in the face of evidence, have outright insulted you. This composure of arrogance leads to a rather immature way of debating the topic at hand. So, having faced the endless steams of immature rebuttals, I can understand the aggression behind the retorted insults. With that said, having read a very large amount of comments from both supporters and critics, I have noticed that the vast majority of those who oppose your views are physicist. If I may ask, how many supporters do you and Rodger have on the physics side of things? I feel that this theory would get more attention if physicist who followed your theory were more outspoken. I wait in anticipation for the mounting evidence in any theory of consciousness. Recently, although the articles didn’t really do the topic justice (such is the way of media coverage), there was a proposal that the “claustrum”, may effectively act as an “on and off” switch for the brain. Just curious to know what you have to say about that. In the end, only evidence will give us the correct answer. Whether it is your theory or another is something that only time will tell. I look forward to seeing what evidence accumulates in the future. Constructive criticism is good, dismissive criticism is annoying and is to be found many. I wish you luck in your endeavor to prove your and Penrose theory correct.

FrancisFrancis

Zach, let me answer your question.

Crick and Koch (2005) hypothesis that the claustrum plays a crucial role in consciousness can be studied using people with claustrum lesions. For example, Chau et al. (2015), dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2015.06.017 , study 117 combat veterans with penetrating traumatic brain injuries; “the results indicate that claustrum damage was associated with the duration, but not frequency, of loss of consciousness, indicating that the claustrum may have an important role in regaining, but not maintaining, consciousness.” For a recent review on the role of the claustrum in segregation of attention, read Goll et al. (2015), dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tins.2015.05.006 .

Recent research points to the key role of the claustrum in the information processing in the visual system. A brief review by Smythies (2015), dx.doi.org/10.3389%2Ffncel.2015.00443

Bests,
Francis

Stuart HameroffStuart Hameroff

Thanks Francis, but as I said:

“The claustrum may coordinate and regulate consciousness, but so does the thalamus and brainstem. In any case I think consciousness can occur in various brain regions at different times, and literally moves around the brain by opening and closing of gap junctions (see my paper ‘The conscious pilot’).”

The main problem is not WHERE in the brain consciousness occurs, but what mechanisms in those regions are essential to consciousness. That’s Orch OR.

Stuart

Stuart HameroffStuart Hameroff

Dear Zach

Thanks very much for your comments. I welcome criticism, but not uninformed disparagement.

You might have a look at this for a more light-hearted approach
interaliamag.org/articles/stuart…he-universe/

To your points:

I maintain there is more evidence for the Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR theory than any other theory.

The claustrum may coordinate and regulate consciousness, but so does the thalamus and brainstem. In any case I think consciousness can occur in various brain regions at different times, and literally moves around the brain by opening and closing of gap junctions (see my paper ‘The conscious pilot’).

Some physicists do agree with us, but you’re right, most disagree. Some disagree because of decoherence (unaware of the actual evidence) and many because of their views on the measurement problem in quantum physics. For example Penrose OR avoids the need for multiple worlds, a popular but silly idea.

cheers
Stuart Hameroff

ZachZach

Stuart, I have another curious question for you. Would you be willing, if I talk to the philosophy department and they host the event, to give a presentation on consciousness. It’s a bit of a travel (Mankato State University, Minnesota) but I feel the department would be very interested. If it fits into your schedule we could try and work things out. Thanks-

ZachZach

Hello Stuart, if I talk to the philosophy department, would you be willing (if your schedule allows) to hold a presentation at Mankato State University, Mankato? if not you, could you recommend contemporary colleges? Thanks, – Zach

ZachZach

* many…….people who typically having nothing to offer themselves.

John BrunoJohn Bruno

Francis, wasn’t Einstein’s theory thought of as unbelievable, unprovable, and even laughed and scoffed at before it was shown to be true through experimentation that only became available at a later time. I believe it has been shown recently that quantum processes can take place within a relatively warm, wet, neuronal environment. I believe as we have more technology, more will be revealed.

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