Spin theory of consciousness

Congruence of energies for cerebral photon emissions, quantative EEG activities and ~5 nT changes in the proximal geomagnetic field support spin-based hypothesis of consciousness

Michael Persinger, Blake Dotta, Kevin Saroka & Mandy Scott, Laurentian University

Journal of Consciousness Exploration and Research, February 2013, vol. 4, issue 1, pp. 1-24


This recent theory of quantum consciousness relates to work by the physicists, Hu, H. and Wu, M., carried out within the last ten years. Harking back to Penrose’s concept of a spin network, the quantum property of spin is seen as being embedded in the structure and shape of spacetime. Quantum entanglement is seen as deriving from spin, presumably because spin and polarisation are the properties that can be altered by entanglement. Spin is also seen as primordial, pre-dating in the early universe the emergence of matter that involves mass and charge. With respect to consciousness theory, spins are regarded as the ‘pixels’ of consciousness. This is therefore a fundamental theory of consciousness. Consciousness is not arbitrarily related either to some classical feature or some particular quanta, but indicated as a given property of the universe that cannot be explained in terms of other physics or biology, and is also related to conditions that are only known to arise in the brain.

In relation to spin, the authors envisage a number of processes in the brain. They start with action potentials, which are suggested to indirectly modulate networks of nuclear spins via the electrons associated with the nuclei. The authors studies are claimed to support this idea via three indicators, being photon emissions, EEG activity and alterations in the immediate geomagnetic field. Further to this, a reduction in the local geomagnetic field running from the rear to the front of the cortex is related to neural rhythms and in particular the gamma synchrony, running in the opposite direction to the geomagnetic gradient. This presumably allows the inter-connection of conscious spin activities in different parts of the brain. The rest of this review deals mainly with studies that claim to support the above proposals.

In a study (Hu & Wu, 2004), it was proposed that networks of nuclear spins in neural membranes are associated with strongly fluctuating magnetic fields that are modulated by the indirect dipole-to-dipole coupling in action potentials. Interactions between two nuclear spins result indirectly from the interactions of electrons around the nuclei. Hu and Wu found that these couplings had frequencies of 5-25 Hz, which are within the EEG range of activity. They predicted that magnetic fields associated with spin-related coupling across the cell membrane would have an energy value equivalent to photon emission.

It is proposed that the underlying spin networks could be linked to photon emissions observed with particular brain activities. The energies available to the neuronal membrane are suggested to be within the range associated with photon emission, and therefore capabable of interacting with it, or altering it. A recent study by one of the authors showed that photon emissions from cell cultures were mainly emitted from cell membranes. Another study showed that photon emissions in brain tissue varied strongly, when the tissue was either oxygen deprived, or alternatively exposed to pure oxygen. In further studies involving the authors, subjects thought about either bright white light or else random experiences. It was found that the intensity of emissions from the right hemisphere of the brain were correlated with EEG activity over the left prefrontal, when the subjects were imagining white light, but not at other times. In another study, photon emissions while the subject was imagining white light had a pronounced inverse correlation with the intensity of the horizontal geomagnetic field.

A further study looked at the behaviour of the parahippocampal gyri in both hemispheres, when the subject was and alternatively was not thinking about light. When light was imagined by the subject, there was a marked increase in power in the delta, beta and gamma bands associated with activation of the parahippocampal gyrei. Photon emissions were elevated in the 16-17 Hz range, while the subject imagined light, and this corresponds to the range of proton couplings predicted by Wu and Hu.

One pattern revealed in these studies was the change in geomagnetic intensity between the rear and front of the cortex, while the subject was experiencing white light, somthing which was much less marked in the abscence of thinking about light. A decrease in geomagnetic intensity was associated with increased photon emission in the cortex. The decrease was consistent with Wu an dHu’s prediction for proton-proton spin interactions over the cell membrane. The authors suggest that both the energy increase from photon emissions and the energy decrease in the geomagnetic field derive from the same source. The energy associated with changes in the geomagnetic field was of the same order as the energy associated with photon emissions.

The authors argue that the state of consciousness associated with imagining white light relates to changes in the intensity of the geomagnetic field within the brain. Photon emissions were also related to the strength of activity within the beta and gamma wave ranges, where the gamma synchrony is the best known correlate of consciousness. The change in the geomagnetic intensity is within Hu and Wu’s predicted range for proton-proton interactions.

The change in the geomagnetic field occured in a specific direction from the back to the front of the brain, and the authors relate this to a movement in the opposite direction by gamma and other electromagnetic waves. It is suggested that gamma and other oscillations interact with the geomagnetic field to emit photons. This could be expected to be represented within photon fields associated with action potentials. The suggestion is that photon emissions, geomagnetic intensity and the gamma and other oscillations in the brain are interrelated. These geomagnetic studies are argueds to support Hu and Wu’s hypothesis of nuclear spin-pin interactions in response to action potentials that could relate to wider neural activity, consciousness and spacetime patterns of spin.

Hu and Wu (2006) suggest a spin mediated theory of consciousness with the quantum spin as the seat of consciousness. The spins provide an interface between the composition of the brain and the electromagnetic waves that cross the brain. Consciousness is seen as emerging from the collapse of spin states that are entangled with one another.

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