Discovery of Quantum Vibrations in ‘Microtubules’ Inside Brain Neurons Supports Controversial Theory of Consciousness

Pic: Zwarck (CC)

Pic: Zwarck (CC)

Fringeology author and DisinfoCast alum Steve Volk (follow him on Twitter here or visit his website here) alerted me to this rather astonishing press release posted at ScienceDaily. Between this and seeing the president state that marijuana isn’t any worse than alcohol on national TV, I’m starting to wonder if I woke up in some sort of amazing new pocket dimension. Wherever I am, I like it.

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. The recent discovery of warm temperature quantum vibrations in microtubules inside brain neurons by the research group led by Anirban Bandyopadhyay, PhD, at the National Institute of Material Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan (and now at MIT), corroborates the pair’s theory and suggests that EEG rhythms also derive from deeper level microtubule vibrations. In addition, work from the laboratory of Roderick G. Eckenhoff, MD, at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that anesthesia, which selectively erases consciousness while sparing non-conscious brain activities, acts via microtubules in brain neurons.

“The origin of consciousness reflects our place in the universe, the nature of our existence. Did consciousness evolve from complex computations among brain neurons, as most scientists assert? Or has consciousness, in some sense, been here all along, as spiritual approaches maintain?” ask Hameroff and Penrose in the current review. “This opens a potential Pandora’s Box, but our theory accommodates both these views, suggesting consciousness derives from quantum vibrations in microtubules, protein polymers inside brain neurons, which both govern neuronal and synaptic function, and connect brain processes to self-organizing processes in the fine scale, ‘proto-conscious’ quantum structure of reality.”

After 20 years of skeptical criticism, “the evidence now clearly supports Orch OR,” continue Hameroff and Penrose. “Our new paper updates the evidence, clarifies Orch OR quantum bits, or “qubits,” as helical pathways in microtubule lattices, rebuts critics, and reviews 20 testable predictions of Orch OR published in 1998 — of these, six are confirmed and none refuted.”

An important new facet of the theory is introduced. Microtubule quantum vibrations (e.g. in megahertz) appear to interfere and produce much slower EEG “beat frequencies.” Despite a century of clinical use, the underlying origins of EEG rhythms have remained a mystery. Clinical trials of brief brain stimulation aimed at microtubule resonances with megahertz mechanical vibrations using transcranial ultrasound have shown reported improvements in mood, and may prove useful against Alzheimer’s disease and brain injury in the future.

Lead author Stuart Hameroff concludes, “Orch OR is the most rigorous, comprehensive and successfully-tested theory of consciousness ever put forth. From a practical standpoint, treating brain microtubule vibrations could benefit a host of mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions.”

The review is accompanied by eight commentaries from outside authorities, including an Australian group of Orch OR arch-skeptics. To all, Hameroff and Penrose respond robustly.

Penrose, Hameroff and Bandyopadhyay will explore their theories during a session on “Microtubules and the Big Consciousness Debate” at the Brainstorm Sessions, a public three-day event at the Brakke Grond in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, January 16-18, 2014. They will engage skeptics in a debate on the nature of consciousness, and Bandyopadhyay and his team will couple microtubule vibrations from active neurons to play Indian musical instruments. “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

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  • heinrich6666

    So all the New Age talk of ‘vibrations’ may be less wrong than we knew?

    • Simon Valentine

      raise the debt floor and lower the wrong ceiling, we’re keeping up with Indiana Jones.

    • Calypso_1

      Not really.
      They’ve been ignorantly stealing from physics for a long time.

      • heinrich6666

        They stole mystical vibrations from quantum theory?

        • emperorreagan

          Some chaos magick types have been liberally referencing quantum theory for quite a while now.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            don’t chaos magick types liberally reference anything they want to though?

          • Rey d’Tutto

            Their tendency towards eclecticism is part of what makes them chaos mages…

      • echar

        Can it be said that quantum physics owes at least a nod towards Hindu and Buddhist philosophy?

        • Calypso_1

          I don’t think so. Quantum physics really isn’t these ideas in words. It’s the math.

          • echar

            Ok :)

      • Simon Valentine

        and here i’ve been thinking for awhile now that physics in turn has been ignorantly stealing it from sociology, not that there’s much -ology to it.

      • Rhoid Rager

        You must be more than a little excited at this new, no?

        • Calypso_1

          Yes and no. From the standpoint of the theory itself, as with any scientific theory I try not to be too emotionally invested in it. I’ve been following this for 15 years, have been to their conferences and it just seemed to me to be the best model available. I am excited about the potential for any early stage practical applications related to enhanced understanding of or therapeutics with EEG.
          I’m more excited for the community involved in that there will be more respect and research money. Many of them have had more personal experience with exploration of consciousness than your average scientist.

          • Rhoid Rager

            I get excited when I see snippets (such as this) of the process of up-ending previous ontological givens, even if it is tip-toeing and at a snail’s pace (by human lifetime standards anyway).
            Also, it is always encouraging to see hardworking researchers rewarded. It’s evidence that the ethic of caring about knowledge for the sake of knowledge has not been entirely subsumed by the capitalist model.
            At any rate, proxy congratulations by proxy!

    • BuzzCoastin

      everthing in “reality” is vibrating at the quantum level
      @ 10 to the 26th power a second
      the Buddha first articulated that fact around 500bce

  • Simon Valentine

    a) people Use confidence despite fact, error, or otherwise (try that for practical)
    b) necromancy is illegal in Cyrodiil (authority shmority, Smalls)
    c) you math & physics fields too troll troll
    d) money
    e) buy & sell favor slaves
    f) if quantum anything exists it also doesn’t exist, so don’t expect anything that you’re not also going to not expect, because all in all it may as well be a flag that says “liars and criminals have a right to say you’re a liar and a criminal instead of them” (try replacing exists with is true, is fact, or any other phrase)
    g) exactly how many questions and facts of life does (f) answer, anyway? 42? >9k?

    • echar

      Your mathmagical sorcery makes me feel inferior. Evil doer!

      • Simon Valentine

        to paraphrase a few sources (for me primarily Stargate)

        “There is no Origin, only reinforcements.”

  • Rhoid Rager

    great news

  • BuzzCoastin

    consciousness
    you can’t know it
    but you can be it

  • emperorreagan

    I would really like to hear the coupling of the MT vibrations to the instruments.

  • al jones

    It’s a fact that most scientists think this is garbage. It’s just a bunch of new age wishful thinking. The article is VERY misleading in making it appear that this is a notion which is accepted by the mainstream, scientific majority. The orch-or ideas are the laughing stock of almost every credible scientist. Furthermore, there is absolutely NO evidence to suggest even the slightest bit, that consciousness enters or leaves the body, and plenty of evidence to demonstrate that it is an emergent property of the brain. This “theory” is merely the same old religious speculating on intelligent design. They actually say in the article that near death experiences are evidence for their “theories”! In fact, the near death experience occurs when the brain is still alive, and when consciousness is altered. It’s entirely chemical and physical, with no reason or evidence to suggest that consciousness is escaping. Subjective experiences are not proof of a damn thing. These guys would have to come up with a way to measure consciousness, and establish that there is in fact “other” realities to venture too. So far, there is no way to measure or demonstrate this in the slightest. Nothing that is to say except for peoples religious fantasies or drug induced hallucinations.

  • al jones

    It’s a fact that most scientists think this is garbage. It’s just a bunch of new age wishful thinking. The article is VERY misleading in making it appear that this is a notion which is somehow accepted by the mainstream, scientific majority. The orch-or ideas are the laughing stock of almost every credible scientist. Furthermore, there is absolutely NO evidence to suggest even the slightest bit, that consciousness enters or leaves the body, and plenty of evidence to demonstrate that it is an emergent property of the brain. This “theory” is merely the same old religious speculating on intelligent design. They actually say in the article that near death experiences are evidence for their “theories”! In fact, the near death experience occurs when the brain is still alive, and when consciousness is altered. It’s entirely chemical and physical, with no reason or evidence to suggest that consciousness is escaping. Subjective experiences are not proof of a damn thing. These guys would have to come up with a way to measure consciousness, and establish that there is in fact “other” realities to venture too. So far, there is no way to measure or demonstrate this in the slightest. Nothing that is to say except for peoples religious fantasies or drug induced hallucinations.

    • gustave courbet

      I don’t have a horse in this particular race, but I am generally dismayed by scientists who think they have a handle on reality. As Planck said: “Science advances one funeral at a time.”

    • Rey d’Tutto

      The above article did indeed mention that there are 20 Testable predictions wrapped up in their recent revision, 6 of which have been verified, and 14 that have not yet been falsified. Hardly “no proof”, but I will agree that this deserves more investigation. Only one of the remaining 14 predictions needs to be falsified to disprove their theory, so I’ll continue to hold judgment aside until they have been tested.
      Remember, 1) Ridicule, 2) Violent Opposition, 3) Acceptance. You seem to display the first two well enough for us both, so I’ll keep my patience in hand until the data speaks for or against their theory on it’s own.
      P.S., Einstein was positive Gravitational Lensing wouldn’t be observed for a long time, as technology was incapable of it, at least until 1979…

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