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A review and update of a controversial 20-year-old theory of consciousness 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. 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.
The particles and atoms in your body are "entangled" with each other: they receive and transmit information not just by biochemical means, but by the remarkable process known in quantum physics as "phase-conjugate quantum resonance." Phase-conjugate quantum resonance is a term used by physicists that means that the particles are "non-locally entangled." It is thanks to the existence of this ultrafast, ultrasubtle, but enormously efficient way of transmitting information that your body can be alive, and stay alive.
This makes sense because living systems exhibit highly and until recently inexplicably coherent behavior. Their cells and organs resonate in phase, and the entire living organism seems to obey one encompassing "macroscopic wave-function." In other words, instead of functioning like a bunch of cells and chemicals each doing their own thing unaware of each other, all the biochemical and bioelectric dance in superb coordination acts like a giant wave which moves and flows as one, despite the many individual droplets that are within it.
"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."