Toward a Science of Consciousness

2012 Pre-Conference Workshop

4 hour workshop

Toward a Science of Consciousness

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

9:00 am - 1:00 pm


Consciousness and the Universe:
Current Status of the Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR Theory

Stuart Hameroff MD
Professor, Anesthesiology and Psychology

Director, Center for Consciousness Studies

The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Quantum Consciousness Workshop
Stuart Hameroff MD

9:00 to 10:00
Microtubule information processing
Penrose-Hameroff  Orch OR model
Microtubule megahertz coherence, transcranial ultrasound therapy

10:15 to 11:15
Topological quantum computing, anesthesia,
Fractal brain hierarchy, Orch OR and Eastern philosophy

11:30 to 12:30 pm
Guest Panelists/Commentators TBA


What is consciousness? Did consciousness emerge as an epiphenomenal byproduct of evolution, as modern science suggests? Or has consciousness been here all along, intrinsic to the universe, as Eastern philosophies maintain? The Penrose-Hameroff theory of orchestrated objective reduction (Orch OR) accommodates both views, suggesting that 1) consciousness depends on synaptically ‘orchestrated’ quantum computations in intra-neuronal microtubules, regulating neuronal brain activity. 2) The quantum computations in microtubules evolve by the continuous Schrödinger equation and terminate in accordance with Penrose ‘objective reduction’ (OR) by E=h/t, where E is the magnitude of the quantum superposition, h is Planck’s constant (over 2pi), and t is the time at which OR occurs (due to separation and instability in fundamental spacetime geometry). 3) Each Orch OR event results in a moment of conscious awareness, selecting proto-conscious qualities intrinsic to the most basic level of the universe. Consciousness is thus seen as a sequence of discrete moments (e.g. at 40 Hz, with t=25 msec, and E= nanograms of microtubule protein), each conscious moment a reconfiguration of underlying spacetime geometry, or quantum gravity. Orch OR thus suggests a connection between biomolecular processes in the brain and fine-grained structure and dynamics of the universe.

First proposed in 1995, Orch OR has been repeatedly criticized on various grounds, for example whether quantum coherent states can occur in warm biological systems. In this presentation, Orch OR will be reviewed and updated in light of such criticisms, and new evidence supporting warm quantum biology (including quantum states in microtubules from Anirban Bandyopadhyay.)  

Finally, the nature of the Orch OR connection between neuronal processes and the universe will be explored through 1/f, scale-free, fractal-like aspects of brain structure and dynamics. Recent experiments have shown that brain network structure and temporal dynamics are, occasionally, self-similar, i.e. fractal, the same patterns repeating at different scales (content of consciousness and memory have long been considered fractal-like, or holographic). Using E=h/t, Orch OR (and thus consciousness) can occur at different neuronal network levels (EEG frequencies), and additional discrete levels extending downward in size, and upward in frequency and intensity, into specific levels of microtubule resonance (e.g. megahertz), and further still into quantum non-local fractal-like levels of spacetime geometry, possibly extending to Planck-scale spin networks and twistors. New evidence suggests fractal spiral pathways in microtubules supporting topological quantum computing. Consciousness (by E=h/t) can exist and transition among these various levels, Lokas or astral planes. Meditation and altered states may involve consciousness transitioning to higher frequencies and intensities in spacetime geometry in a fractal-like universe.

Also, recent clinical studies of transcranial ultrasound (TUS) showing improved mood in chronic pain patients will be discussed, as will potential applications of TUS in a variety of neurological and psychiatric conditions. TUS is thought to work via megahertz resonance of brain microtubules.


Reference: Penrose R, Hameroff S (2011) Consciousness in the Universe: Neuroscience, Quantum Space-time Geometry

and Orch OR Theory. Journal of Cosmology 14