Emerging Physics of Consciousness

The Path Ahead

Jack Tuszynski & Nancy Woolf

Dept. of Physics, University of Alberta & Dept. of Behavioural Neurosceince, UCLA

In: Tuszynski, J. Ed. The Emerging Physcics of Consciousness Springer ISBN-13 978-3-540-23890-4

The Path Ahead is Jack Tuszynski’s and Nancy Woolf’s introduction to ‘Emerging Physics of Consciousness’ a very useful book dealing with recent and proposed experimentation and new ideas relative to quantum consciousness. The introductory section contains overview material about the nature of the different approaches to quantum theory and the differing proposals for quantum consciousness. It is stressed that over the last decade experimental evidence has shown that there is signalling along microtubules, and several types of interaction between microtubules and membranes. From this it is reasonable to suggest that tubulin conformation in microtubules may be linked to ion channel opening and closing, enzyme catalysation, motor protein activity, and propagation of ionic waves along filaments. Tubulin itself is only marginally stable and must strike a balance between countervailing forces. Microtubules are also shown to be relevant to neurocognition. Neurons in rat visual cortex produce massive amounts of tubulin in the period after infant rats open their eyes ( 4. Cronley Dillon and Perry). Tubulin is thus implicated in a key period of visual learning.

This introductory chapter also draws attention to the Beck & Eccles model (1), where neurotransmitter release and the resulting consciousness states are dependent on quantum tunnelling between vesicles in the synapses. This relates to the fact that even after receiving an axon signal it is probablistic as to whether or not a synapse will fire, and quantum mechanics is one way of dealing with this situation. The nanometer scale of proteins and other biomolecules in the synaptic area make a quantum solution look likely. Beck and Eccles relied on a theory worked out by Marcus and Jortner ( 2 ), who modelled quantum transfer between biomolecules. ( 3. Woolf ).


1.) Beck, F. & Eccles, J. (2003) In: Osaka, N. Ed. Neural Basis of Consciousness Benjamins

2.) Jortner, J. (1976) Journal of Chemical Physics, 64, pp. 4860-4867 & Marcus, R. (1956) Journal of Chemical Physics, 24, pp. 966-978

3.) Woolf, Nancy & Hameroff, S. (2001) Trends in Cognitive Science, 5 pp. 472-478

4.) Cronley-Dillon, J. & Perry, G. (1979) Journal of Physiology, 293, pp. 469-484

Flohr, H. (1995) Behavioural Brain Research, 71, pp. 157-61

Flohr, H (2000) In: Metzinger, T. Ed. Neural Correlates of Consciousness MIT Press

Kaech, S. (1999) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 96, pp. 10433-10437

Khuchua, Z. et al (2003) Neuroscience, 119, pp. 101-111

Mershin, A. et al (2004a) Biosystems, 77, pp. 73-85

Squires, E. (1990) Conscious Mind in the Physical World Adam Hilger

Tusznski, J. et al (2004) Biophysics Journal, 86, p. 1890

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