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What is consciousness? Stuart Hameroff MD Anesthesiology, Psychology and Center for Consciousness Studies The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona www.quantumconsciousness.org.

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Presentation on theme: "What is consciousness? Stuart Hameroff MD Anesthesiology, Psychology and Center for Consciousness Studies The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona www.quantumconsciousness.org."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is consciousness? Stuart Hameroff MD Anesthesiology, Psychology and Center for Consciousness Studies The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

2 BING!!! In Western philosophy, consciousness is a representation of the world in our brain

3 MindMatter Materialism Brain=Mind=Computer

4 . In Eastern philosophy consciousness is connected to a deeper reality BING!!! BING!!! BING!!! BING!!! BING!!!

5 Mind= Matter Panpsychism

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9 BING!!!

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11 MindMatter Idealism

12 For Descartes, consciousness like a play on stage The Cartesian Theater

13 Descartes believed an immaterial soul perceived the world in our head BING!!

14 MindMatter Cartesian Dualism

15 Simon and Newell developed similar brain/mind computer architectures CPU

16 Neuroscientists Baars, Edelman/Tononi, Changeux/Dehaene, Crick/Koch cast thalamo-cortical oscillations as Global workspace for consciousness BING!!

17 Neuroscientists Baars, Edelman/Tononi, Changeux/Dehaene, Crick/Koch cast thalamo-cortical oscillations as Global workspace for consciousness Bottom-up, top-down, hierarchical, based on sensory inputs, arousal BING!!

18 But consciousness also internally-generated: mind wandering, daydreaming, memories, meditation The Brain's Dark Energy/Default network Raichle (2006) Science 314: 1249 – 1250, 2006) BING!!! BING!! BING!!! BING!!

19 Brain functions (cognition) Sensory perception Control of behavior Learning, Memory Attention, Sleep Language Intelligence Visceral/sexual may be either non-conscious (Chalmers easy problems, zombie modes, auto-pilot)

20 Brain functions (cognition) Sensory perception Control of behavior Learning, Memory Attention, Sleep Language Intelligence Visceral, Sexual non-conscious (zombie/auto-pilot) or conscious Bing

21 Brain functions (cognition) Sensory perception Control of behavior Learning, Memory Attention, Sleep Language Intelligence Visceral, Sexual Bing Bing Bing accompanied by gamma synchrony EEG

22 Brain functions (cognition) Sensory perception Control of behavior Learning, Memory Attention, Sleep Language Intelligence Visceral, Sexual Bing moving through the brain

23 Brain functions (cognition) Sensory perception Control of behavior Learning, Memory Attention, Sleep Language Intelligence Visceral, Sexual Bing Bing

24 Brain functions (cognition) Sensory perception Control of behavior Learning, Memory Attention, Sleep Language Intelligence Visceral, Sexual Bing Bing Bing

25 Gamma synchrony in olfactory bulb cortex correlates with conscious smell. J Neuroscience. 26(8): , 2006 Neuron46(5):761-72, 2005 BING!!

26 Neuroscience. 159(4): , 2009 Brain Research. 1156:46-58, 2007 Conscious feelings of pleasure and reward correlate gamma synchrony in dopaminergic nucleus accumbens BING!!

27 The best neurophysiological correlate of consciousness (NCC) comes from EEG, voltage fluctuations recorded from scalp or brain surface. EEG is divided into frequency bands: Delta (< 4 Hz) Theta (4 to 8 Hz) Alpha (8 to 12 Hz) Beta (13 to 30 Hz) Gamma (> 30 Hz) Coherence in gamma synchrony among different brain regions is the best correlate of consciousness

28 BING!!! BING Lutz et al, PNAS

29 ... consciousness itself is only momentary a sequence of moments..causing each other…each moment of consciousness only lasts for a very short period of time. A very advanced meditator…is able to detect the transition from moment to moment…They are..1/64th of the snap of a finger. John Dunne Emory University

30 Buddhist writings quantify the frequency of conscious moments. The Saarvastivaadins (Von Rospatt, 1995) describe 6,480,000 moments in 24 hours (one moment per 13.3 seconds = 75 Hz), and Chinese Buddhists as 50 thoughts per second (50 Hz). Gamma synchrony EEG is 30 to 90 Hz.

31 Dendrites Cell body Axonal firing, or spike Dendrites Hodgkin-Huxley neuron leads to integrate-and-fire

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40 Wheres consciousness?

41 Wheres the BING?

42 EEG measures post- synaptic dendritic integration (not axonal firings) Synchrony comes from dendrites

43 Two types of synapses 1) Chemical synapses 2) Electrical (gap junction) synapses

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52 B I N G !

53 BING!!

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57 Nancy Woolf

58 Normal Alzheimers

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65 MindMatter Deeper reality Neutral Monism

66 Reality is described by two distinct sets of laws, forming two worlds: The quantum world and the classical world. Classical Quantum

67 Classical (large scale, observable) Quantum (small scale, unobservable)

68 Classical (large scale, observable) Consciousness Quantum (small scale, unobservable)

69 Four features of the quantum world: 1) Particles can exist in multiple possible states or locations simultaneously: superposition 2) Unified particles which become separated remain connected over distance and time: quantum entanglement 3) Multiple particles can condense into one unified entity: quantum coherence 4) Precise location AND momentum of quantum particle are indeterminate: uncertainty

70 Quantum superposition In the quantum world, particles/objects…. 1)Behave like waves…… Exist in two or more locations or states simultaneously (quantum superposition), Electron spin up and spin down

71 Quantum entanglement In the quantum world, particles/objects…. 2) Remain intimately connected when spatially separated (quantum entanglement – Einsteins spooky action at a distance).

72 Quantum coherence In the quantum world, particles/objects…. 3) Condense into unitary objects (quantum coherence, Bose-Einstein condensation) governed by one wave function. If one component is perturbed, others feel it.

73 Quantum effects are used in quantum information technology Quantum computers – Information represented as bits of 1 or 0 as in conventional computers, but also as quantum bits, qubits of superpositions of both 1 AND 0. Qubits communicate/compute by entanglement, collapse/reduce to answer. Quantum cryptography – Quantum states transmitted by nonlocal entanglement; eavesdropping alters message, hence secrecy insured. Now used commercially! Quantum teleportation – States of particles communicated by nonlocal entanglement, resulting in destruction/exact duplication elsewhere. Beam me up, Scotty!!!

74 Why dont we see quantum superpositions in our world? 1)Consciousness collapses the wave function: Schrodingers cat 2) Superpositions are separations in reality: multiple worlds

75 3) Decoherence: Superpositions persist until interaction with classical environment at the border between quantum and classical worlds. ( But this doesnt explain isolated superpositions) 4) David Bohms Quantum potential: Underlying pilot waves (Implicate order) guide quantum particles to choose/unfold to classical states (explicate order)

76 Sir Roger Penrose Consciousness is an actual physical process, a sequence of quantum state reductions connected by E=h/t to an objective threshold inherent in spacetime geometry (objective reduction, OR) Bing!!!

77 Penrose: underlying structure of the quantum world embeds Platonic information and precursors of life and consciousness Freeman Dyson: Mind and intelligence are woven into the fabric of the universe (The quantum world is NOT random/uncertain; randomness/uncertainty introduced in measurement/decoherence. Einstein: God does not play dice with the universe! Einstein: Matter is equivalent to curvature in spacetime - not only at large scales, but at infinitesimally tiny scales – the basement level of the universe at the Planck scale… cm

78 Penrose observed that quantum superposition – an object in two places/states simultaneously – equated to two spacetime curvatures in different directions: a bubble or separation in the fabric of reality But the separations are unstable, and after a time t (given by E=h/t) will spontaneously self- collapse to one curvature or the other (an objective reduction – O.R.).

79 Bing Bing Bing Bing Bing Orch OR conscious events - Ripples in quantum spacetime geometry occurring at gamma synchrony

80 Penrose-Hameroff 1995 Quantum computations in microtubules reduce by OR, orchestrated by synapses - Orch OR

81 Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR model 1995/1996 original publications 1995 to present – criticism, no refutation 1998 – 20 testable predictions published Validations: 1) coherent megahertz excitations in microtubules (Pokorny 2004) 2) warm quantum coherence in biology (Engel et al, 2007) 3) topological quantum error correction 4) ballistic conduction in microtubules at megahertz (Bhadyapatyay) 5) gap junctions mediate neural correlate of consciousness ( ) Conscious pilot/Orch OR is the most complete theory of consciousness

82 Hameroff and Penrose 96 –Precursors of conscious experience embedded in the fabric of spacetime, fundamental spacetime geometry at the Planck scale Loop quantum gravity/quantum geometry String theory, Calabi-Yau space Consciousness, information in the fabric of spacetime geometry? Wheres consciousness? Wheres the BING?

83 Our choices, actions and perceptions may be influenced by quantum Platonic values at the Planck scale (e.g. The Way of the Tao)

84 MindMatter Quantum spacetime geometry Ground of being Nonduality Neutral Monism

85 MindMatter Quantum spacetime geometry Ground of being Nonduality Neutral Monism Penrose Objective Reduction decoherence Orch OR measurement

86 Conclusions Consciousness is a sequence of discrete quantum events at the fundamental level of spacetime geometry Such events are connected to the brain via quantum processes in microtubules Conceivably, when brain metabolism ceases, quantum information in spacetime geometry can persist, and remain entangled as a soul Soul-like quantum information could return to the body (NDE/OOB), or an embryo or zygote (reincarnation)

87 Toward a Science of Consciousness 2010 April 12-17, Tucson, Arizona


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