Understanding the orchestrated brain

Another of those articles impossible to summarize, courtesy JD, so a sample and then you can read on if you wish:

A review and update of a controversial 20-year-old theory of consciousness published in Physics of Life Reviews claims that consciousness derives from deeper level, finer scale activities inside brain neurons.

The recent discovery of quantum vibrations in “microtubules” inside brain neurons corroborates this theory, according to review authors Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose. They suggest that EEG rhythms (brain waves) also derive from deeper level microtubule vibrations, and that from a practical standpoint, treating brain microtubule vibrations could benefit a host of mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions.

The theory, called “orchestrated objective reduction” (‘Orch OR’), was first put forward in the mid-1990s by eminent mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose, FRS, Mathematical Institute and Wadham College, University of Oxford, and prominent anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, MD, Anesthesiology, Psychology and Center for Consciousness Studies, The University of Arizona, Tucson.

They suggested that quantum vibrational computations in microtubules were “orchestrated” (“Orch”) by synaptic inputs and memory stored in microtubules, and terminated by Penrose “objective reduction” (‘OR’), hence “Orch OR.” Microtubules are major components of the cell structural skeleton.

Orch OR was harshly criticized from its inception, as the brain was considered too “warm, wet, and noisy” for seemingly delicate quantum processes.. However, evidence has now shown warm quantum coherence in plant photosynthesis, bird brain navigation, our sense of smell, and brain microtubules.

Read on …


5 responses to “Understanding the orchestrated brain

  1. Two things fascinated me in the article-
    <<“Despite a century of clinical use, the underlying origins of EEG rhythms have remained a mystery.”>>
    I shall mention that on my next visit to see the neurologist at the hospital. 🙂

    << “Consciousness depends on anharmonic vibrations of microtubules inside neurons, similar to certain kinds of Indian music, but unlike Western music which is harmonic,” Hameroff explains.>>
    – which probably explains why this is so wonderful and infiltrates the soul-

  2. The journalist deviates from the main point to make it ‘trendy’ with musical analogies. The arising of a quantum particle within the microtubules leaves no room for its field which collapses. On a ‘mass’-scale within an axon this may ’cause’ a vibration if it attains a pattern. But that does not imply consciousness. Neither can an extra-cranial device measure it. It might however have a lot to do with neuronal transmission which may be detected if large enough.

    Several almost -competing models of OCR generation and effect are discussed in ‘Toward a Science of Consciousness’, (1996) which is comprised of the papers presented at the First Tucson Conference. It is still very early days and a long time has passed since then, so any ‘corroborative’ studies are eagerly grasped.

  3. Amfy – It was Hameroff who made the musical analogy. The first Tucson Conference was held in 1994 and Hameroff was responsible for setting it up and bringing together people from different scientific disciplines to share ideas. It is held every two years.
    And you are right, it is still very early days.
    After asking so many awkward questions so often, my neurologist reluctantly conceded that nobody knows anything for certain about neurology. She says my case is a ‘challenge’ which is, I think, a medical term meaning ‘awkward bugger who won’t do what he is told’ 🙂

  4. In the latest National Geographic magazine there is a feature entitled ‘The New Science of the Brain’.


    It goes in a different direction than your article but it is an interesting read.

  5. One point taken JD. The date referred to the book publication.

    My neurologist lady was the same way about my TIA. A 10mm diam hole was left near a ventricle. When I asked what the cells there were supposed to do, she hadn’t a clue.