Archive for October, 2014

Consciousness, biology and quantum hypotheses. [Phys Life Rev. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI.

Conscious cognition is therefore a distinct kind of brain event. Many of its features are well established, and must be accounted for by any adequate theory. No non-biological examples are known. Penrose and Hameroff have proposed that consciousness may be viewed as a fundamental problem in quantum physics. Specifically, their ‘orchestrated objective reduction’ (Orch-OR) hypothesis posits that conscious states arise from quantum computations in the microtubules of neurons. However, a number of microtubule-associated proteins are found in both plant and animal cells (like neurons) and plants are not generally considered to be conscious. Current quantum-level proposals do not explain the prominent empirical features of consciousness. Notably, they do not distinguish between closely matched conscious and unconscious brain events, as cognitive-biological theories must. About half of the human brain does not support conscious contents directly, yet neurons in these “unconscious” brain regions contain large numbers of microtubules. QM phenomena are famously observer-dependent, but to the best of our knowledge it has not been shown that they require a conscious observer, as opposed to a particle detector. Conscious humans cannot detect quantum events “as such” without the aid of special instrumentation. Instead, we categorize the wavelengths of light into conscious sensory events that neglect their quantum mechanical properties. In science the burden of proof is on the proposer, and this burden has not yet been met by quantum-level proposals. While in the future we may discover quantum effects that bear distinctively on conscious cognition ‘as such,’ we do not have such evidence today.”