We are honored to host Dr. Stuart Hameroff at the Brain Institute on March 2nd, 2023.
Dr. Hameroff gave a talk titled “Is the brain a computer, or a quantum orchestra? A new paradigm needed in neuroscience “.
Neuroscience views the brain as a complex computer of simple neurons, a paradigm unable to account for consciousness, memory nor free will, and an insult to neurons.
Single-cell organisms with no synapses perform purposeful intelligent functions using their cytoskeletal microtubules. Brain neurons are filled with microtubules, selfassembling cylindrical protein polymers which organize synapses, encode memory and process information. Microtubules collectively resonate in scale-invariant, fractal-like patterns in hertz, kilohertz, megahertz, gigahertz and terahertz frequency ranges. At the higher frequencies, quantum vibrations and state reductions can entangle and interfere across frequencies, like musical notes and chords resonating across scales. Quantum coherence provides cognitive binding, real-time causal action (by Penrose OR state reduction, enabling free will through retroactivity), and can potentially solve the ‘hard problem’. In Penrose OR, basic ‘qualia’ of conscious experience are events in the fundamental makeup of the universe, spacetime geometry. Penrose-Hameroff ‘Orch OR’ suggests microtubules in brain neurons ‘orchestrate’ qualia into full rich conscious experience. Evidence shows quantum processes in microtubules are inhibited by anesthetics which selectively block consciousness. And megahertz and gigahertz coherent oscillations can now be detected from the scalp within the EEG (Anirban Bandyopadhyay group). Neuroscience needs a new paradigm. The brain should be viewed as a scale-invariant hierarchy extending from neurons both upward to larger networks, but also downward, inward, to deeper, faster ‘scale-invariant’ quantum processes in cytoskeletal microtubules inside neurons, and ultimately to fundamental spacetime geometry. Rather than a classical computer, the brain is like a quantum orchestra. Rather than computation, consciousness is like music in the fine scale geometry of the universe.