Achilles’ heels of the Orch OR model
NeuroQuantology, March 2007, Vol 5, Issue 1, pp. 182-5
Summary and review of the above paperin fact
Every new entrant to consciousness studies has to prove their worth by refuting Penrose, although this is often at the expense of reducing their own credibility. The core argument in this paper is that when a subjective experience involves a perception that is untrue, such that something belongs to you when it belongs to someone else there are then two separate perceptions, and that this arrangement violates the conservation of energy. It doesn’t take much neuroscience to realise that there is only one set of conscious neural activity regardless of whether a perception is true or false, and the energy conservation argument fails here.
The paper moves onto the familiar territory of Tegmark (2000), supposedly showing how quantum coherence could not have effects in the brain. It is ironic that the publication of this article coincided with the Greg Engel paper demonstrating that quantum coherence was involved in the processing of photosynthetic organisms, which in effect refutes the Tegmark argument that quantum features could not be relevant to biological system. Subsequent research has demonstrated that quantum coherence could function in organisms at room temperature and in multicellular plants as well as bacteria and algae.
Hameroff’s scheme for quantum coherence to extend across whole neural assemblies is admittedly rather clunky. Research since his original proposal has pointed more towards consciousness arising in the functioning of individual neurons within which it would be much easier for quantum coherence to prove functional.