Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Front Integr Neurosci. 2012 Oct 12;6:93. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2012.00093. eCollection 2012.

How quantum brain biology can rescue conscious free will.

Author information

  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Center for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona Tucson, AZ, USA ; Department of Psychology, Center for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona Tucson, AZ, USA.

Abstract

Conscious "free will" is problematic because (1) brain mechanisms causing consciousness are unknown, (2) measurable brain activity correlating with conscious perception apparently occurs too late for real-time conscious response, consciousness thus being considered "epiphenomenal illusion," and (3) determinism, i.e., our actions and the world around us seem algorithmic and inevitable. The Penrose-Hameroff theory of "orchestrated objective reduction (Orch OR)" identifies discrete conscious moments with quantum computations in microtubules inside brain neurons, e.g., 40/s in concert with gamma synchrony EEG. Microtubules organize neuronal interiors and regulate synapses. In Orch OR, microtubule quantum computations occur in integration phases in dendrites and cell bodies of integrate-and-fire brain neurons connected and synchronized by gap junctions, allowing entanglement of microtubules among many neurons. Quantum computations in entangled microtubules terminate by Penrose "objective reduction (OR)," a proposal for quantum state reduction and conscious moments linked to fundamental spacetime geometry. Each OR reduction selects microtubule states which can trigger axonal firings, and control behavior. The quantum computations are "orchestrated" by synaptic inputs and memory (thus "Orch OR"). If correct, Orch OR can account for conscious causal agency, resolving problem 1. Regarding problem 2, Orch OR can cause temporal non-locality, sending quantum information backward in classical time, enabling conscious control of behavior. Three lines of evidence for brain backward time effects are presented. Regarding problem 3, Penrose OR (and Orch OR) invokes non-computable influences from information embedded in spacetime geometry, potentially avoiding algorithmic determinism. In summary, Orch OR can account for real-time conscious causal agency, avoiding the need for consciousness to be seen as epiphenomenal illusion. Orch OR can rescue conscious free will.

KEYWORDS:

Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR; consciousness; free will; gamma synchrony; gap junctions; microtubules; quantum computing; volition

PMID:
23091452
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC3470100
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for Frontiers Media SA Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk