[ExI] Fwd: Paper on "Detecting Qualia" presentation at 2015 MTA conference

Henry Rivera hrivera at alumni.virginia.edu
Tue Feb 3 00:44:47 UTC 2015

On Sun, Feb 1, 2015 at 11:16 PM, Rafal Smigrodzki <
rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sun, Feb 1, 2015 at 11:21 AM, Henry Rivera <hrivera at alumni.virginia.edu
> > wrote:
>> However, I want to point out that Orch OR is probably the most scientific
>> model proposed in philosophy of mind. Its two founders are scientists, I am
>> a scientist, and Orch OR offers 20 _testable_ predictions to assess its
>> validity published in 1998, of which six are confirmed and none refuted
>> last time I checked.
> ## What are they?
> I find the theory fails the LOL test but I could be wrong. Tell me about
> non-obvious confirmed biophysical predictions and I might stop lol-ing.

>From S. Hameroff, R. Penrose. Consciousness in the universe. A review of
the “Orch OR” theory. Phys Life Rev, 11 (1) (2014), pp. 39–78 available at

“5.7. Testable predictions of Orch OR – current status

Orch OR involves numerous fairly specific and essentially falsifiable
hypotheses. In 1998 twenty testable predictions of Orch OR in 9 general
categories were published [15]. They are reviewed here with our comments on
their current status in -italics.

Neuronal microtubules are directly necessary for cognition and consciousness

1. Synaptic plasticity correlates with cytoskeletal
architecture/activities. -The current status of this is unclear, although
microtubule networks do appear to define and regulate synapses.

2. Actions of psychoactive drugs, including antidepressants, involve
neuronal microtubules. -This indeed appears to be the case. Fluoxitene
(Prozac) acts through microtubules [167]; anesthetics also act through MTs

3. Neuronal microtubule stabilizing/protecting drugs may prove useful in
Alzheimer’s disease. -There is now some evidence that this may be so; for
example, MT-stabilizer epithilone is being tested in this way [168].

Microtubules communicate by cooperative dynamics

4. Coherent gigahertz excitations will be found in microtubules. -Indeed;
in some remarkable new research, Anirban Bandyopadhyay’s group has found
coherent gigahertz, megahertz and kilohertz excitations in single MTs

5. Dynamic microtubule vibrations correlate with cellular activity.
-Evidence on this issue is not yet clear, although mechanical megahertz
vibrations (ultrasound) do appear to stimulate neurons and enhance mood

6. Stable microtubule patterns correlate with memory. -The evidence
concerning memory encoding in MTs remains unclear, though synaptic
messengers CaMKII and PkMz do act through MTs. Each CaMKII may encode (by
phosphorylation) 6 information bits to 6 tubulins in a microtubule lattice.

7. ‘EPR-like’ non-local correlation between separated microtubules. -This
is not at all clear, but such things are very hard to establish (or refute)
experimentally. Bandyopadhyay’s group is testing for ‘wireless’ resonance

between separated MTs [142].

Quantum coherence occurs in microtubules

8. Phases of quantum coherence will be detected in microtubules. -There
appears to be some striking evidence for effects of this general nature in
Bandyopadhyay’s recent results [88,89], differing hugely from classical
expectations, where electrical resistance drops dramatically, at certain
very specific frequencies, in a largely-temperature independent and
length-independent way.

9. Cortical dendrites contain largely ‘A-lattice’, compared to B-lattice,
microtubules. -Although there is some contrary evidence to this assertion,
the actual situation remains unclear. Orch OR has been criticized because
mouse brain microtubules are predominantly B lattice MTs. However these
same mouse brain MTs are partially A-lattice configuration, and other
research shows mixed A and B lattice MTs [156–158]. Bandyopadhyay has
preliminary evidence that MTs can shift between A- and B-lattice
configurations [142], and A-lattices may be specific for quantum processes.
Orch OR could also utilize B lattices, although apparently not as
efficiently as A-lattice.

In any case, A-lattice MTs could well be fairly rare, specific for quantum
effects, and sufficient for Orch OR since the A-lattice may be needed only
in a fraction of MTs in dendrites and soma, and perhaps only transiently.

10. Coherent photons will be detected from microtubules. -A positive piece
of evidence in this direction is the detection of gigahertz excitations in
MTs by Bandyopadhyay’s group, which may be interpreted as coherent photons

Microtubule quantum coherence is protected by actin gelation

11. Dendritic–somatic microtubules are intermittently surrounded by tight
actin gel. -This is perhaps a moot point, now, in view of recent results by
Bandyopadhyay’s group, as it now appears that coherence occurs at warm
temperature without actin gel.

12. Cycles of actin gelation and solution correlate with electrophysiology,
e.g. gamma synchrony EEG. -Again, this now appears to be a moot point, for
the same reason as above.

13. Sol–gel cycles are mediated by calcium ion flux from synaptic inputs.
-No clear evidence, but again a moot point.

Macroscopic quantum coherence occurs among hundreds of thousands of neurons
and glia inter-connected by gap junctions  -Gap junctions between glia and
neurons have not been found, but gap junction interneurons interweave the
entire cortex.

14. Electrotonic gap junctions synchronize neurons. -Gap junction
interneurons do appear to mediate gamma synchrony EEG [49–54].

15. Quantum tunneling occurs across gap junctions. -As yet untested.

16. Quantum correlations between microtubules in different neurons occurs
via gap junctions. -As yet untested. However Bandyopadhyay has preliminary
evidence that spatially separated MTs, perhaps even in different neurons,
become entangled in terms of their BC resonances [142], so gap junctions
may be unnecessary for Orch OR.

The amount of neural tissue involved in a conscious event is inversely
related to the event time by τ ≈ h/E G

17. Functional imaging and electrophysiology will show perception and
response time shorter with more neural mass involved. -As a ‘prediction’ of
Orch OR, the status of this is not very clear; moreover it is very hard to
provide any clear estimate of the neural mass that is involved in a
‘perception’. As a related issue, there does appear to be evidence for some
kind of scale-invariance in neurophysiological processes (Section 3.2

An unperturbed isolated quantum state self-collapses (OR) according to τ ≈
h/E G

18. Technological quantum superpositions will be shown to undergo OR by τ ≈
h/E G . -Various experiments are being developed which should supply an
answer to this fundamental question [108], but they appear to remain
several years away from being able to achieve firm conclusions.
Microtubule-based cilia/centrioles are quantum optical devices 19.
Microtubule-based cilia in retinal rod and cone cells detect photon quantum
information. This appears to be untested, so far.

A critical degree of microtubule activity enabled consciousness during

20. Fossils will show organisms from early Cambrian (540 million years
ago), had sufficient microtubule capacity for OR by τ ≈ ?/E G of less than
a minute, perhaps resulting in rudimentary Orch OR, consciousness and the
‘Cambrian evolutionary explosion’. -It is clearly hard to know an answer to
this one, particularly because the level of consciousness in extinct
creatures would be almost impossible to determine. However present day
organisms looking remarkably like early Cambrian creatures (actinosphaerum,
nematodes) are known to have over 10^9 tubulins [56].

It would appear that the expectations of Orch OR have fared rather well so
far, and it gives us a viable scientific proposal aimed at providing an
understanding of the phenomenon of consciousness. We believe that the
underlying scheme of Orch OR has a good chance of being basically correct
in its fundamental conceptions.”
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