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The bohm-penrose-hameroff model for consciousness and free will theoretical foundations and empirical evidences

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The Bohm-Penrose-Hameroff (BPH) model offers a heuristic explanation of consciousness from the complementary works of Bohm and Penrose-Hameroff. Physically, in the microscopic regime, the quantum neurology of Penrose and the quantum potential of Bohm play a unified role in the BPH model. Both, Bohm and Penrose look for an answer to the emergence of the classical regime from the quantum background of reality. In the biological level, Bohm's macroneurons and Penrose's microtubules work together as biophysical crucial elements to understand the consciousness phenomenon. The mind as an unconscious neural system to control the body in the environment, the arising of the conscious subject with self-perception in the whole reality, and the subjective sensation of free-will in the law-ruled world, are some traditional philosophical problems that could be partially illuminated by the new biophysics of the BPH model.
FIGURE: Living beings are complex adaptive systems. (a) Where do life, evolution and complexity emerge from matter? Within classical physics is difficult to find structures to explain the dynamics and evolution of conscious beings. Computable deterministic evolution is able to describe the algorithmic path of robotic system but it cannot reproduce the complex phenomenological behavior of animals. On the other hand, purely non-deterministic physics is too random to make possible the emergence of stationary and stable structures needed for life. Our hypothesis is to place life, evolution and complexity in the fuzzy bordering between deterministic and non-deterministic physical processes. A physical model form consciousness should include well-established regular structures from classical physical and highly-dynamical holistic properties form quantum physics. (b) Regularity is one of the fundamental features of complex living beings. It is hardly difficult to find regular structures in pure random systems as quantum fluctuations. On the opposite side, once regularity reaches the highest levels systems becomes so computable and predictable that there is no room for freedom. It is expected to place complex adaptive systems in the transient region (shaded region) between randomness and computability. (c) Information is everywhere is the physical world. Living beings uses information patterns to replicate themselves. As it is explained by physical information theory extremely random and computable systems have low levels of information. The ability to save and use richer levels of information is placed in the midway between (shaded region) randomness and computability. Finally (d) Adaptability is the main property of complex living beings. It is a magnitude that results from the combination of regularity and information. The peak in adaptability is achieved when regularity and information are optimized. That is when both magnitudes are in the middle of the respective shaded regions, i.e. between deterministic and non-deterministic systems. We notice that the shaded region is expanded because complex systems need to use non-deterministic hazardous behaviors to make adaptability possible. Life is risk. No risk, no better adapting possibilities.
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Session III: The Quantum Mind
THE BOHM-PENROSE-HAMEROFF
MODEL FOR CONSCIOUSNESS AND FREE WILL
Theoretical foundations and empirical evidences
MANUEL BÉJAR GALLEGO
Universidad Pontificia Comillas (CTR Chair), Madrid
ABSTRACT: The Bohm-Penrose-Hameroff (BPH) model offers a heuristic explanation of consciousness
from the complementary works of Bohm and Penrose-Hameroff. Physically, in the microscopic regime,
the quantum neurology of Penrose and the quantum potential of Bohm play a unified role in the BPH
model. Both, Bohm and Penrose look for an answer to the emergence of the classical regime from the
quantum background of reality. In the biological level, Bohm’s macroneurons and Penrose’s microtubules
work together as biophysical crucial elements to understand the consciousness phenomenon. The mind
as an unconscious neural system to control the body in the environment, the arising of the conscious
subject with self-perception in the whole reality, and the subjective sensation of free-will in the law-ruled
world, are some traditional philosophical problems that could be partially illuminated by the new biophysics
of the BPH model.
KEY WORDS: mind, consciousness, determinism, emergentism, holism, microtubules, free-will.
Consciousness is a mystery. It is a well-stated phenomenon studied by science,
but it is also a problem. We do not know how consciousness arises from matter.
Many evidences show that consciousness is a material phenomenon, since it
correlates with physical activity. Matter makes consciousness possible, although
we have not yet a model to explain the psychical emergence from matter. Psychology
describes conscious perceptions, self-perception, individuality, emotions, cognitive
structures, time and space. Dream, drugs, pain are some examples of altered
consciousness states. Nevertheless psychology is not able to explain neither
consciousness nor free-will. And neurology can not understand matter good enough
to describe its own evolution from life to conscious sensations and then to the
emergence of consciousness.
Physics is the paradigmatic science of matter. Actually, it is well established
that every empirical manifestation of consciousness is originated in matter.
Consciousness is matched to material bodies, which need very fine tuned
neurological and biophysical conditions. Nevertheless, physical sciences do not
explain consciousness. Traditionally, consciousness has been studied rationally
by philosophy. Philosophers have done a good work looking for the metaphysical
reasons of consciousness, but nowadays they cannot continue without taking
into account the new scientific discoveries. Physicists have only got involved in
the pure physical phenomena and they have almost not even dared to explain
consciousness.
In the last hundred years, the philosophical idea of matter has been regulated
by the technological and scientific results. Scientific models allow us to control
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the physical activity of matter and offer very new concepts about its physical nature.
But all the reality cannot be understood from the reductionism of particle physics.
Physics and philosophy must approach together to the study of the physical nature
of matter. In this line, we present a theoretical model to explain the emergence of
consciousness from the physical activity of matter. We integrate the historical
developments of the new physics proposed by Roger Penrose and the metaphysical
concepts defined by David Bohm. We present a brief historical overview in the
recent research on consciousness around the works of Bohm, Penrose and Hameroff.
We also show how the Penrose-Hameroff hypothesis and Bohm metaphysics can
be successfully combined in a new model, and finally we will outline some of the
most relevant experimental results that support the quantum model for
consciousness. Finally, we also show relevant empirical evidences that support this
new proposal and we finish this work remarking some conclusions about free-will.
1. A BIT OF HISTORY: SOME MODERN MILESTONES IN THE SCIENCE
OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Going back fifty years we find the birth of AI and its original motto Machines
can contain minds just as human bodies do. In those times, David Bohm published
a book about determinism in physical sciences1. If all the physical laws are truly
deterministic, free-will would be only a delusion, and there wouldn’t be any physical
difference between robots and human bodies. Fifteen years later, Hameroff got
interested in the study of microtubules as information processors. Maybe there
was already some intuition about some non-computational biophysical process
in the brain.
The first crisis of AI came in 1975 when engineers became conscious of the
vast amount of information needed to emulate commonsense and reasoning.
Little time later, Bohm published his first dissertation on consciousness as a
phenomenon of the universal material dynamic 2. Some kind of spiritualism
entered in the scientific community with the risky speculations written in
Wholeness and the implicate order. The counterattack of the hard side of AI was
not late in coming. In 1982 AI was reborn due to the economic contributions of
the Japanese government. Since then AI seeks to explain the mind-body problem
using only computable logical rules.
In the best years for AI, Hameroff published his book Ultimate computer3and
Penrose strikes back against computationalists with his best-seller The Emperor’s
New Mind4, whose title was inspired in a tale of Anderssen, which in turn is based
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1BOHM, D. (1957), Causality and Chance in Modern Physics, London Routledge & Kegan
Paul.
2BOHM, D. (1980), Wholeness and the Implicate Order, London, Routledge.
3HAMEROFF, S. R. (1987), Ultimate Computing. Biomolecular Consciousness and
NanoTechnology, Tucson, Elsevier.
4PENROSE, R. (1989), The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and The
Laws of Physics, Oxford, University Press.
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on a story from the Spanish medieval writer D. Juan Manuel. The moral of the
story is that only because the whole world believes that something is true, it does
not mean that it is. AI was too strong in the eighties, and many people believe
that the mind is just a complex algorithm. Penrose used Gödel’s incompleteness
theorems5to refute them.
Nineties is full of alternative models for consciousness. Bohm developed his
formalism of quantum potentials operating in the brain. Penrose proposed his
physical model in The Shadows of the Mind6, and finally in 1996 Penrore and
Hameroff published a paper7on their Orch OR model that quickly had a major
impact on the scientific community, and many scientists opposed. For example,
Tegmark published some arguments against the Penrose-Hameroff model based
on quantum decoherence timescales8. Some counter-arguments were given by
Hameroff and Tuszynski9. Since then some few empirical evidences support the
quantum functioning of the brain.
2. PHENOMENOLOGY OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Often someone usually ask what is the definition of consciousness when we
begin to explain the phenomenon. That’s a tricky question. We don’t really know
what consciousness is in the same way that we don’t know the nature of matter,
although we can measure its physical properties. The very essence of matter
keeps hidden. Actually, I think we cannot even give an operational definition of
consciousness. For the present time we can only talk about the phenomenological
properties of consciousness.
We are putting together some phenomenological features of consciousness
from the point of view of different specialised authors. From psychology,
J. Gibson 10 focuses on the perception of the psychic subject, who feels the
energetic pressure of the environment that directly impacts on his cognitive
system. From neurology, G. Edelman11 remarks the inner world of the subject
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5First: «Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic
cannot be both consistent and complete». In particular, for any consistent, effectively generated
formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement
that is true, but not provable in the theory. Second: «For any formal effectively generated
theory T including basic arithmetical truths and also certain truths about formal provability,
T includes a statement of its own consistency if and only if T is inconsistent».
6PENROSE, R. (1994), Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of
Consciousness, Oxford, University Press.
7HAMEROFF, S. R., and PENROSE, R. (1996), «Orchestrated Reduction of Quantum Coherence
in Brain Microtubules: A Model for Consciousness», in S. R. HAMEROFF, A. W. KASNIAK and A. C.
SCOTT (eds.), Toward a Science of Consciousness I, 507-542, Massachusetts, MIT Press.
8TEGMARK, M. (2000), «The importance of quantum decoherence in brain processes»,
Phys. Rev. E., 61, 4194-4206.
9HAGAN, S.; HAMEROFF, S. R., and TUSZYNSKI, J. A. (2002), «Quantum computation in brain
microtubules: Decoherence and biological feasibility», Phys. Rev. E., 65, 61901-61911.
10 GIBSON, J. (1950), The perception of visual world, Boston, Houghton Mifflin.
11 EDELMAN, G., y TONONI, G. (2002), El universo de la conciencia, Barcelona, Crítica.
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that allows him to feel its own individuality as an integrated part of the whole.
From philosophy, P. Heelan12 insists in the stability of the visual perception.
Fantasies are dynamic an easily modifiable whereas true perceptions are stable.
Once we have exposed the structural aspects of consciousness we continue
with its functional aspects. First, the conscious subject perceives himself as a
single organic whole. The body is felt nowhere. Self-perception is the holistic
feeling that make possible to distinguish the self from the other. Second, good
levels of self-perception carry free actions. With self-perception the conscious
subject is able to drive his body properly in the environment for guarantying his
own survival. Third, higher orders of conscious states integrate cognitive
processes. The conscious subject becomes a cognitive subject that can develop
a conceptual frame of meaning for reality.
From a phenomenological point of view we can define consciousness as a felt
mental state of matter, because conscious beings can feel the mind. It is a felt mental
state of matter with personal knowledge of the own perceived existence and of the
sensorial existence of the environment. When the mind becomes conscious it is able
to distinguish the individual self from the environment. Every conscious state
cannot be truly communicated. Only the one who feels consciousness is aware of
his experience and his own subjectivity. Conscious states are always recounted to
contents. That is, consciousness in the temporal superposition of classical conscious
states referred to something or someone. Conscious states are globally perceived as
a whole unity to manage life creatively. Conscious beings can anticipate their actions,
evaluate the consequences, and decide to execute or cancel plans13.
3. A PHYSICAL MODEL FOR CONSCIOUSNESS
The origin of the universe is also a mystery. Penrose14 understands the Big
Bang as a special geometry defined by very special mathematical conditions. He
links gravity with the Second Law of Thermodynamics to explain the temporal
asymmetry of time, and relates temporal asymmetry and gravity to the irreversible
quantum-classical transition in the measurement process.
Penrose distinguishes three physical problems related to consciousness. He
hopes a clearer understanding of the mind nature once they were resolving them
resolved. i) The problem of mind. Physics explains the macroscopic and microscopic
worlds, but not mind phenomenon that appears between the large and the small.
ii) The problem of time. The actual physical theory of time, Relativity, does not
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12 HEELAN, P. A. (1988), Space-perception and the philosophy of science, Berkeley, University
of California.
13 DAMASIO, A. (2010), Y el cerebro creó al hombre. ¿Cómo pudo el cerebro generar emociones,
sentimientos, ideas y el yo?, Barcelona, Destino.
14 PENROSE, R. (1989), La nueva mente del emperador, Madrid, Mondadori; ID. (1994), Las
sombras de la mente. Hacia una comprensión científica de la conciencia, Barcelona, Crítica;
ID., Lo grande, lo pequeño y la mente humana, Madrid, Malcolm Longair.
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explain how time is psychologically felt flowing from the past to the uncertain
future by every conscious subject. iii) The problem of the quantum-classical transition.
No actual theory can unify gravity with the other three quantum interactions.
There is still no quantum gravity theory and no well-established explanation about
how the classical world can emerge form the quantum background. Analogy,
quantum physics can neither explain how the mind can be conscious if the quantum
world is unconscious.
3.1. The biophysical basis of consciousness
According to Penrose’s physics, a new neurological quantum model of
consciousness is possible. He uses the hollowed microtubules of the cells as
entities that can support collective quantum states. Microtubules are quantum
information processing systems. They are composed by many tubulins elements,
which are the biological quantum bits to compute the physical information of
the environment. If tubulins are enough well-isolated from the noisy hot brain
then they could be able to work in quantum superposition until gravity destroys
coherence just before the emergence of the classical conscious state. Tubulins
elements codify information in binary code. Enough well-isolated from the noisy
environment of the hot brain, tubulins work in the quantum regime until gravity
destroys the coherence and induce the classical conscious state.
The transition from the quantum to the classical is tuned by microtubules
associated proteins (MAPs) that orchestrate the gravitational objective reduction.
The decoherence process is neither random – as it is in thermal chaotic systems –
nor computable, because measurement is unpredictable. While tubulins are
processing information in quantum superposition the mind is unconscious.
Consciousness arises when MAPs orchestrate the objective reduction of quantum
tubulins and the brain becomes classical.
Penrose drew up his model in collaboration with the American anaesthetist
Stuart Hameroff15. According to the Penrose-Hameroff model, consciousness
emerges from the quantum cooperation of microtubules in the brain. The isolated
microtubules process the quantum information until the classical neuronal
conscious state emerges from the unconscious mind. The quantum-classical
transition is regulated by MAPs, which originate a gravitational objective reduction.
Therefore, the brain operates most of the time in unconscious quantum functioning
until the MAPs induce a process of decoherence to the classical conscious
state.
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15 HAMEROFF, S. R. (2003), Ultimate Computing. Biomolecular Consciousness and
NanoTechnology, Tucson, Personal edition; ID. (2004), «Quantum states in proteins and protein
assemblies: The essence of life?», en D. ABBOTT, S. M. BEZRUKOV, A. DER and A. Sánchez (eds.),
Fluctuations and Noise in Biological, Biophysical, and Biomedical Systems II. Proceedings of
the SPIE, Volume 5467, pp. 27-41; ID. (2006), «Consciousness, Neurobiology and Quantum
Mechanics: The Case for a Connection», en J. A. TUSZYNSKI (ed.), The emerging physics of
consciousness, Berlin, Springer.
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Let’s remark a few questions that we need to know about the Penrose-hameroff
hypothesis. If coherence is completely necessary to keep microtubules in quantum
functioning. What mechanisms are expected to occur in the brain for producing
long-time coherence? Once we assume long-time coherent quantum superposition
in brain microtubules. Why do not we enlarge quantum entanglement to the whole
body? Supposing Orch OR model truly produces the emergence of consciousness
in the brain, how could we explain the different experienced conscious states?
3.2. The physical ontology of consciousness
Bohm16 is a scientist interested in metaphysics, who predicted the developing
of quantum neurology twenty years ago. Every physical phenomenon is
ontologically originated in the implicate order, i.e. the ultimate metaphysical
structure of the whole reality in permanent movement. Consciousness is explained
as an intrinsic property of matter in the holemovement. It is to say that
consciousness emerges from the dynamic of the whole mind-matter movement.
Every individual consciousness is a coherent unity in the holomovement.
Consciousness cannot be separated from the whole movement of matter. The
action of quantum potentials causes the emergence of the consciousness from
the holemovement. Many neurons coupled by the quantum potential lose its
individuality to form one macroneuron, which behaves as a whole entity in quantum
evolution. Macroneurons process the physical information until the action of the
quantum super potential induces the quantum-classical transition to the conscious
state. They work as psychic resonators of the physical activity. Therefore the brain
operates both in the quantum and the classical regime. And it is in the confluence
between the classical and the quantum where consciousness arises.
Bohm proposed that there are classical and quantum potentials. Classical
potentials produced classical forces and quantum potentials put matter in
quantum functioning. The physical world is ontologically based on a quantum
reality named the implicate order. The same quantum potential that dominates
the implicate order is able to make individual neurons behave as a collective
system of quantum macroneurons, which process the physical information of
the environment, until the action of the quantum super potential induces the
transition to the classical state.
The quantum super potential works like a system of active information that
tells matter how to move and allow complexity to emerge from the quantum
background. Active information operates on the brain as it does in the implicate
order, and put the brain in quantum functioning. In consequent neurons loose
its individuality and behave like one unitary macroneuron. That is to say the
brain behaves holistically.
Here we have a few answers that Bohm would give us on the Penrose-
Hameroff hypothesis. What mechanisms are expected to occur in the brain for
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16 BOHM, D. (1980), La totalidad y el orden implicado, Barcelona, Kairós.
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producing long-time coherence? Quantum potentials match the brain to the
quantum dynamics of the implicate order. The brain uses quantum computation
to decode the information of the explicate order. Why don’t we enlarge quantum
entanglement to the whole body? The quantum potential put the brain in
quantum functioning. The quantum super-potential cut off the quantum
coherence in such a way that the brain operates in multiple independent modes.
How could we explain the different experienced conscious states? EPR-phenomena
could be used to entangle the brain and reality. Active information could tell
MAPs how to be placed on microtubules. The physical fields of the environment
operate at a distance on the microtubules to orchestrate a concrete mental
hologram.
3.3. The Bohm-Penrose-Hameroff model for consciousness
Given the main phenomenological features of consciousness, as well as the
internal problems of physics related to the consciousness phenomenon we
proceed to present a new model for consciousness using Bohm’s quantum
potentials and Penrose-Hameroff physical processes in microtubules, namely
the Bohm-Penrose-Hameroff (BPH) model. The BPH model is a heuristic
interpretation of the mind, which brings us closer to understand the physical
nature of consciousness.
Three pillars founded the BPH model. i) The ontological unity of mind and
matter. Bohm based his theory on one energetic background of mind-matter
reality, and Penrose explains the mind from physical principles. ii) Entropy and
evolution. Both the metaphysical holemovement and the emergent physical
evolution of consciousness are explanatory proposals described by the Second
Law. iii) Quantum consciousness. Information is processed by the brain via
quantum as well as the classical channels. Consciousness phenomenon appears
in the border of coherent quantum states and macroscopic biophysical structures.
Basically the BPH model states that gravity causes the origin of complex
structures and the consequent increase of entropy. Microtubule’s tubulins are
designed to increase the entropy in agreement with the Second Law. Tubulins
process quantum information in the brain while the quantum potential makes
the brain behaves as a collection of macroneurons. Quantum potential keep the
brain on quantum functioning until the quantum super potential induces the
gravitational transition to the classical conscious state by the gravitational
perturbation of the MAPs. Then quantum coherence is lost, classical reduction
is completed and a new conscious states is emerged.
The quantum potential entangles many tubulins in whole coherent systems
that process the information of the environment. The mind saturates when
the quantum potential energy is more or less constant. The system would
then maintain its internal coherence until the thermal chaos starts decoherence.
The action of the super quantum potential energy prevents the thermal reduction
and induces an orchestrated gravitational evolution regulated by MAPs.
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The quantum super potential cuts short the coherent processing of the brain
and gravity unleashes the decoherence process that ends in a new conscious
state.
The brain receives directly the physical information of the environment and
processes it in the microtubules of different cells. MAPs modify their position
by the action of quantum potentials according to the energy of the environment.
Microtubules run the information to look for the quantum waves compatible
with the distribution of MAPs, which are located in the wave nodes. Out of all
the patterns the one that reaches the highest degree of coherence would be
resolved to produces the conscious state.
4. WHERE DO LIFE, EVOLUTION AND COMPLEXITY EMERGE FROM MATTER?
If we agree with Hameroff hypothesis and Penrose’s arguments on the
implications of Gödel Theorems, we shouldn’t think that computable system
could emulate consciousness. All the computable systems are deterministic and
incompatible with the subjective sensation of free-will, because their main feature
is predictability.
In this plot we represent all the computable systems inside this set, which is
in included in a larger one where every deterministic system is included. Out of
determinism we find indeterminism. But we must be cautious because the border
line between deterministic and non-deterministic systems is not clearly defined.
Some dynamical systems are chaotic and unpredictable at all. Somehow they
resemble quantum systems in which we cannot completely predict the result of
the measurement. Far away from the fuzzy frontier we find the purely non-
deterministic random systems. For example, we could place quantum fluctuations
there.
Consciousness appears in a fuzzy band between the border lines of deterministic
and non-deterministic systems. In the graphs shown in the figure below we
represent some of the main properties of living beings: regularity, information
and adaptability. In each figure the region suitable for the emergence of
consciousness is shaded. On your left we represent regularity in different regions
of our plot. It is difficult to find order within randomness, so that complexity
couldn’t emerge. On the other end, regularity increases when we approach to
computability, but when the order is so predictable the system cannot store
information.
On your right we plot the ability of a system to store information. Basically
information has to do with a reduction or selection of alternatives. A computable
system is too predictable because it always do the same. Information of the
regularity in a computable system can be saved in a short chain of bits. On the
other end, pure randomness has no information because is not regular at al.
Order fluctuations cannot be amplified to the macroscopic regime. When we
talk about useful information we have to look for in the shaded region between
randomness and computability.
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Learning and evolution need to distinguish regularity from randomness.
Complex adaptive systems get environmental information identifying regularities
and choosing between the alternatives. Life can only be originated under very
suitable physical conditions. As we can see in the central figure, complex adaptive
systems emerge between determinism and indeterminism, where regularity and
probability coexist17.
Please notice that although the peak of the function is centered in determinism
the long tail of the graph goes into the indeterminism. That’s important for
evolution. Chance can lead to highly complex forms from the very simple. If
evolution had provided a steady improvement of adaptation, complex systems
would be rapidly trapped in determinism and classical stimulus-response
behaviour. To avoid that, complex systems must experiment the indeterminism.
Complex systems learn how to get regularity in a pseudorandom background.
Life could be the result of amplified quantum events. In this sense, conscious
systems could have use quantum amplifications for better adaptation to the
environment.
In synthesis, the BPH model for consciousness is based in the next three
pillars.
Gamma synchrony as the classical neural correlate of consciousness.
Consciousness needs a strong communication between the inner brain and the
cortex. Classical neural networks throughout the brain are the mind of the body.
When the neural activity correlates the mind becomes conscious. The very
existence of synchronized gamma indicates that a conscious experience
is occurring. The lost of consciousness implies the lost of Gamma synchrony
(30-90 Hz) in EEG. We can measure the correlation, because consciousness is
ultimately classical.
Microtubules as biophysical resonators of quantum information. The brain
uses quantum physics to process the environmental information. Quantum
potentials put tubulins in quantum superposition. The brain operates as a
quantum network system, until the action of the quantum super potential on
microtubule proteins induces the orchestrated reduction to the classical conscious
state.
Gap junctions as biological Josephson cell-cell quantum couplings. Gamma
synchrony involves gap junctions. Gap junctions couple microtubules of
different cells, and propagate quantum coherence through the neural network
that behaves like macroneurons during the time of decoherence. Gap junctions
or quantum synapses allow the whole brain to be in macroscopic quantum
coherence.
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17 GELL-MANN, M. (1995), The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the
Complex, London, Abacus.
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FIGURE: Living beings are complex adaptive systems. (a) Where do life, evolution and complexity
emerge from matter? Within classical physics is difficult to find structures to explain the
dynamics and evolution of conscious beings. Computable deterministic evolution is able
to describe the algorithmic path of robotic system but it cannot reproduce the complex
phenomenological behavior of animals. On the other hand, purely non-deterministic physics
is too random to make possible the emergence of stationary and stable structures needed
for life. Our hypothesis is to place life, evolution and complexity in the fuzzy bordering
between deterministic and non-deterministic physical processes. A physical model form
consciousness should include well-established regular structures from classical physical
and highly-dynamical holistic properties form quantum physics. (b) Regularity is one of
the fundamental features of complex living beings. It is hardly difficult to find regular
structures in pure random systems as quantum fluctuations. On the opposite side, once
regularity reaches the highest levels systems becomes so computable and predictable that
there is no room for freedom. It is expected to place complex adaptive systems in the
transient region (shaded region) between randomness and computability. (c) Information
is everywhere is the physical world. Living beings uses information patterns to replicate
themselves. As it is explained by physical information theory extremely random and
computable systems have low levels of information. The ability to save and use richer levels
of information is placed in the midway between (shaded region) randomness and
computability. Finally (d) Adaptability is the main property of complex living beings. It is
a magnitude that results from the combination of regularity and information. The peak in
adaptability is achieved when regularity and information are optimized. That is when both
magnitudes are in the middle of the respective shaded regions, i.e. between deterministic
and non-deterministic systems. We notice that the shaded region is expanded because
complex systems need to use non-deterministic hazardous behaviors to make adaptability
possible. Life is risk. No risk, no better adapting possibilities.
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5. EMPIRICAL EVIDENCES OF THE BPH MODEL
5.1. Macroscopic quantum phenomena. BEC-Mott transitions
Many different quantum physical phenomena keep quantum coherence in
the macroscopic world. Bose-Einstein condensates and superconductors are
paradigmatic examples. Due to thermal noise, most of quantum macro-coherence
phenomena jump rapidly to classical. But some technological devices keep on
quantum coherence during long times and behaves as macroscopic quantum
systems.
Optical condensates look especially interesting to explain consciousness
because they are continuously swinging between quantum and classical states,
i.e. they experiment BEC-Mott transitions 18. Decoherence time of optical
condensates come closer to the dynamic time of the system. It is expected that
some quantum neurological processes could behave in a similar way in the brain.
In this sense we would explain consciousness as an emergent phenomenon in
the frontier between the quantum uncertainty and the classical concretion.
Quantum-classical oscillations are described by quantum potentials in the
BPH model. The system is alternatively dominated by quantum and classical
potentials. The quantum-classical transition would be regulated by the quantum
super potential. In optical condensates wave-particles are confined in the minima
of the optical net coupled by the quantum potential – suffering non-local
interactions until the action of the quantum super-potential. In a similar way
MAPs are confined in the nodes of the quantum waves in microtubules, which
process the physical information until orchestrated MAPs provoke the quantum-
classical transition and the consequent emergence of the concrete conscious state.
5.2. Empirical evidences of quantum biophysical phenomena
Despite of the controversial scientific discussion about quantum phenomena
in living systems, there is growing evidence of quantum influences in genetic,
protein’s folding, photosynthesis and biological self-organization.
Wavelike energy transfer through quantum coherence in photosynthetic systems19, 20.
Scientists have demonstrated that long-lived (>660 fs) quantum coherences
play an important role in the dynamics of energy transfer in photosynthetic
complexes – that is to say the energy transfer is described by wavelike coherent
motion instead of incoherent hopping. In other words, the protein environment
protects electronic coherences to enhance the energy transfer efficiency.
SESSION III: THE QUANTUM MIND: MANUEL BÉJAR GALLEGO 671
PENSAMIENTO, vol. 67 (2011), núm. 254 pp. 661-674
18 KÖHL, M., and ESSLINGER, T. (2006), «Fermionic atoms in an optical lattice: a new
synthetic material», Europhysics News, 37(2), 18.
19 ENGEL, G. S., et al. (2007), «Evidence for wavelike energy transfer through quantum
coherence in photosynthetic systems», Nature, 446, 782-786.
20 LEE, H., et al. (2007), «Coherence Dynamics in Photosynthesis: Protein Protection of
Excitonic Coherence», Science, 316, 1462-465.
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New experiments 21 evidence long-time electronic quantum coherence in
biological systems. The observed highly-efficient energetic quantum transfer in
photosynthetic processes could explain how living beings are so well-designed
to take advantage of the solar light. Coherence oscillations due to quantum states
superposition emerge when the biological system is excited by a short-time light
pulse22. The long-time coherence evolution of the quantum biophysical system
is due to quantum cooperation of proteins, which regulate the system as a whole
entity. Proteins use electronic quantum superposition to try every energetic
transduction path until finding the one which minimizes the energy. In the same
line new experiments have achieved to turn off the brain with light pulses23.
Once the light stopped the conscious activity was immediately restored.
Biological quantum transport effects at room temperature24. The role of quantum
coherence in promoting the efficiency of the initial stages of photosynthesis is
an open and intriguing question. Scientists have performed an experiment on
a bacterial reaction center that enabled direct visualization of the coherence
dynamics. The data revealed long-lasting coherence between two electronic states
that are formed by mixing excited states of molecules in bacteria. The results
suggest that correlated protein environments preserve electronic coherence and
allow the excitation to move coherently in space. This observation extends the
paradigm of protein-protected coherences to nanoscale materials at ambient
temperatures25.
Nanotubes help cells pass messages. Animal cells connected by nanotubes can
be electrically coupled through gap-junctions26, 27. Tunneling nanotubes are recently
discovered conduits for a previously unrecognized form to connect cells over
long distances. Scientists have demonstrated that tunneling nanotubes mediate
the bidirectional spread of electrical signals over distances of 0,1mm. Similar
results implicate gap junctions in long-distance communication, suggesting that
electrical coupling may be a widespread characteristic of animal cells. Electrical
signals are transmitted through gap junctions at a membrane interface between
tunneling nanotubes.
Few years ago electrical synapses namely gap junctions, were considered
promising quantum information channels between cells. Gap junctions are
672 SESSION III: THE QUANTUM MIND: MANUEL BÉJAR GALLEGO
PENSAMIENTO, vol. 67 (2011), núm. 254 pp. 661-674
21 ENGEL, G. (2007), «Evidence for wavelike energy transfer through quantum coherence
in photosynthesis systems», Nature, 446, 782-786.
22 ZHANG, F. et. al. (2007), «Multimodla fast optical interrogation of neural circuitry»,
Nature, 446, 633-639.
23 CHOW, B. Y., et al. (2010), «High-performance genetically targetable optical neural
silencing by light-driven proton pumps», Nature, 463, 98-102.
24 COLLINI, E. et al. (2009), «Coherent Intrachain Energy Migration in a Conjugated Polymer
at Room Temperature», Science, 323, 369.
25 CHOW, B. Y., et al. (2010), «High-performance genetically targetable optical neural
silencing by light-driven proton pumps», Nature, 463, 98-102.
26 MAXMEN, A., et al. (2010), «Nanotubes help cells pass messages. Actin cables transmit
electrical signals between cells», Nature, 10.1038.
27 WANG, X., et al. (2010), «Animal cells connected by nanotubes can be electrically coupled
through interposed gap-junction channels», PNAS 107, 17194.
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proteins that form pores between two adjacent cells for comunication. Recently
it has been discovered that electric signals can communicate distant cells across
nanotubes made of proteins – ultra thin cables containing actin proteins like
microtubules28. Nanotubes uses gap junctions for sending signals. Nanotube-
mediated communication provides other modes of cell-cell interaction in the
brain as it was expected by Penrose and Hameroff. As Michael Levin (Tufts
University) says we can no longer just think of cells touching each other to coordinate
movement. Understanding what physiological information these nanotubes pass
on will now be a key question for the future,
Gap junctions resemble to superconducting Josephson junctions that preserve
quantum coherence tunneling isolated barriers. Qubits can be coupled by
Josephson junctions. I guess that biological gap junctions can support quantum
properties as do Josephson junctions. In the future quantum junctions will play
an important role to understand the origin of complexity and the emergence of
consciousness.
6. CONCLUSION: FREE-WILL IN THE BPH MODEL
Consciousness is more than awareness. Awareness is the ability to feel, perceive
and be conscious of events. Without consciousness we would not be able to
experience our own subjective reality. And without subjectivity there would be
neither creativity nor free-will. Consciousness emerged from awareness when
subjectivity was added to the mind process. Mind does not need subjectivity to
exist. Mind is still working while dreaming. The unconscious mind regulates the
heart-beating, respiration, corporal temperature… It is continuously adapting
itself to the physical conditions of the environment. Why does consciousness
emerge from the unconscious mind?
Mind dominates consciousness, because mind is the clue for adaptation.
Consciousness is a subtle property of the mind. The conscious subject is not only
well adapted to the medium but he has a subjective experience about the cognitive
parameters of reality. Cognitive images emerge in the mind process as an
innovation of the conscious subject. Subjectivity arises when the brain integrates
its own mind. Therefore, the conscious subject reveals the unconscious mind.
What we directly know about our minds is what each subject is conscious of.
That is a corner stone in evolution. Consciousness is able to manage life creatively,
and creativity is an adaptive ability to live autonomously. Consciousness is the
origin of autonomy, freedom and free-will – freedom in absence of compulsion.
Free-will could be understood as a natural consequence of the intrinsic non-
deterministic physics of the BPH model. Truly creativity states would correlate
with high-coherence quantum states in the brain. While the running unconscious
mind is mapping reality deterministically under neural networks, consciousness
SESSION III: THE QUANTUM MIND: MANUEL BÉJAR GALLEGO 673
PENSAMIENTO, vol. 67 (2011), núm. 254 pp. 661-674
28 MAXMEN, A. (2010), «Actin cables transmit electrical signals between cells», Nature news,
20 September 2010 |doi:10.1038/news.2010.482.
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is ruled by non-deterministic orchestrated decoherence processes in microtubules.
In this framework, creativity is in itself a non-computable mind process. Perhaps,
free-will might be able to influence the decoherence process in highly quantum
coherence brain states. Thus, free-will would appear when the conscious subject
finds a purpose in innovation as an autonomous adaptive process, i.e., when the
brain is dominated by non-deterministic quantum processes29.
I would like to finish this article quoting one paragraph of the excellent last
book of A. Damasio30. To place the construction of the human mind in the history
of the biology and of the culture, it opens the way that leads to reconciling the
traditional humanism with the modern science, so that when the neuroscience
explores the human experience in the unknown worlds of the cerebral physiology
and the genetics, the human dignity not only remains, but it works out reaffirmed.
Universidad Pontificia Comillas (CTR Chair), Madrid MANUEL BÉJAR GALLEGO
mbejar@recuerdo.net
674 SESSION III: THE QUANTUM MIND: MANUEL BÉJAR GALLEGO
PENSAMIENTO, vol. 67 (2011), núm. 254 pp. 661-674
29 BÉJAR, M. (2008), «Physics, Consciousness and Transcendence: The Physics of Roger
Penrose and David Bohm as Regards a Scientific Explanation of the Human Mind Open to
Reality», Pensamiento, 242, 715-739.
30 DAMASIO, A. (2010), Y el cerebro creó al hombre. ¿Cómo pudo el cerebro generar emociones,
sentimientos, ideas y el yo?, Barcelona, Destino.
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... Rosa and Faber criticize the Hameroff-Penrose model in the context of a quantum brain model by gravitational collapse orchestrated objective reduction (OOR), and proposed instead that the decoherence process is caused by interaction with the environment [19]. The Bohm-Penrose-Hameroff (BPH) model offers a heuristic explanation of consciousness from the complementary works of Bohm and Penrose-Hameroff [20]. Perus and Loo present an integrated model of human image processing up to conscious visual experience, based mainly on the holonomic brain theory with possibilities for complementing neural models of early vision with new preliminary quantum models of consciousness to construct a model of human image processing [25]. ...
... Table 6 Pros and cons of quantum computing models (ref. [18][19][20][21] Not compatible with decoherence [19] Quantum models of the mind a. There is the belief or conjecture that quantum theory can help us to understand the workings of the brain a. ...
... It is believed that it may help us to understand consciousness b. Time for building coherence must be considered, while the system either remains relatively isolated to sustain coherence or there is no coherent collective state [20] The Bohm-Penrose-Hameroff model for consciousness and free will a. A heuristic explanation is offered that pertains to consciousness from the complementary works of Bohm and Penrose-Hameroff a. ...
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