The People Factor in Quantum Consciousness


Quantum consciousness proposes that quantum mechanical phenomena may be important to brain function and could explain consciousness. This is in contrast to the classical mechanics that are used to explain consciousness. Classical mechanics are based on several physical laws that describe how bodies move when forces are applied. This movement refers to items the size of machinery parts to large objects such as stars, galaxies and planets. This type of mechanics has proven to be very accurate on large objects as long as their speed does not approach the speed of light.

However some scientists believe that brain functions are too small and behave in a way that is consistent with quantum mechanics. This type of mechanics describes how very small bodies, such as molecules and atoms move and interact. Specifically quantum mechanics is based on the wave function that provides the probability that the body can be found in a specific state at any time. This type of physics is very accurate when dealing with items at the subatomic level, though there are many anomalies that have yet to be explained. There are many different theories within quantum consciousness, as none have been proven outright.

The theory of quantum brain dynamics refers to the electromagnetic theory of consciousness. The basics state that consciousness occurs when the brain produces electromagnetic fields. Each field will have different criteria which then correlate to different brain activity. Several scientists that have proposed theories of electromagnetic theory of consciousness include Johnjo McFadden, Susan Pockett and William Uttal. The first scientist that developed quantum brain dynamics was Kunio Yasue and Mari Jibu in the 1960s.

David Bohm claimed that relativity and quantum theory could be used to explain another deeper level in the physical universe that had yet to be explained or discovered. He thought that from this level the entire order of the universe arose. This order relies on consciousness and matter as both matter and mind are considered projections into order. He likes to use the example if listening to music to support this theory. As the notes are seen as transformations instead of memories and that the experience of listening to music in the past and present can be held together in the brain. However in his work there is no proposed mechanism for how this order emerged that relates to consciousness.

David Chalmers has proposed several ways in which quantum mechanics can relate to consciousness. He first proposes that consciousness is too complex to reduce. He states that there are two concepts of the mind; a phenomenal concept relating to how it feel sand then a psychological concept describing what it does. All properties can be explained by one of these concepts or a combination. An example of this is pain in which pain can affect behavior and a person also feels pain. Unlike many other theories Chalmers states that there are non-physical and physical aspects of the world, though this consciousness is related to the physical world.

The first model of quantum consciousness was most likely the synaptic tunneling model proposed by Evan Walker. In this model Walker described the “tunneling” movement of electrons to nearby neurons, creating an overlapping virtual neural network. This virtual network directs the nervous system and produces consciousness. The tunneling occurs by the tunneling quantum effect.

Some of the strongest supports of quantum consciousness are Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose. They state that neurons are too mug to explain consciousness and that there is a cytoskeleton within the neurons that contain microtubules. This cytoskeleton holds all the cells together and controls brain functions. He theorizes that consciousness arises from the interplay between the quantum cytoskeleton and classical activity. This skeleton plays a role in objective reduction. Basically the quantum state of the brain is not in any specific state and then when an observation occurs, the system will then reduce into a specific state. In this way Penrose managed to attempt to unify both Quantum theory and relativity theory. Ultimately this produces a separate mental work that is grounded in the known physical world.

Henry Stapp a famous American Physicist goes back to the start of Quantum theory in his hypothesis of Quantum consciousness. Quantum theory states that there are specific rules that connect different knowledge. Therefore the joint knowledge of the world is science and it tells individuals how to do experiments. Therefore Stapp states that the state of the universe is in fact a composition of all subjective knowledge, in which a wave function describes the state of the universe which then is a combination of all wave functions that can be collapsed by different individual’s observations. Therefore all that exists is considered subjective knowledge and quantum theory deals with subjective matter known as perceived matter. Therefore in the Stapp model reality technically occurs due to brain events which increase knowledge.

Gustav Bernroider thought that consciousness occurs due to ion channels in the brain. Ion channels are found in neuron membranes. These channels are currently known to playa n important role in neuroscience in which axon spiking leads to the release of synapses from neural transmitters. These channels allow for the out flux and influx of ions that change the electrical potential along the axon. This electrical change then makes a neural signal. Atomic-level spectroscopy has shown that quantum entanglement occurs within ion channels and may also exist between different ion channels. Therefore Bernrouder thought that ion channels hold the key to consciousness as they communicate with the rest of the cell membrane. This is not a full emergence into quantum mechanics but at the time of its development not much was known in the field of neuroscience.

There is another quantum consciousness theory, the Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber theory, which is different from all other theories. This theory is also known as the collapse theory and varies as it hypothesizes that the collapse of the wave function occurs spontaneously. This theory was developed in an attempt to reconcile the measurement issues that occur within quantum mechanics. Therefore every time a measurement tries to be taken the wave function collapses, as when measuring particles it only takes one measurement in one position and not all the other possible positions. Therefore the collapse theory agrees with what is found in single-particle experiments.

No one knows if any of these quantum conscious theories are true and can explain consciousness. One of the biggest problems as stated above as that much of quantum theory cannot be measured. Therefore it is most likely that these theories will remain just that, theories. Further technological developments must occur in order to prove quantum consciousness.