- University of California Irvine - Department of Psychiatry and Human
Behavior - 360 San Miguel Dr., Suite 603 - Newport Beach CA 92660 - U.S.A.
KEYWORDS: quantum cybernetics, quantum brain dynamics, consciousness, Heisenberg,
Stapp, Umezawa, Yasue, holoworld, quantum cognition.
ABSTRACT: Classical mechanics cannot naturally accommodate consciousness, whereas
quantum mechanics can, but the Heisenberg/Stapp (H/S) approach, in which consciousness
randomly collapses the neural wave function, leaves the conscious function unrestricted
by known physical principles. The Umezawa/Yasue (U/Y) approach, in which consciousness
offers superposed possibilities to the match with sensory input, is based in
the first physical principles of quantum field theory. Stapp thinks of the brain
as a measuring device, like a Geiger counter, and overlooks that the brain upholds
second-order quantum fields that are symmetry-conserving with respect to reality.
Consciousness is cybernetic rather than having a random function.
1.1 The current upsurge of intense interest in quantum brain theory and consciousness
(e.g., Hameroff, 1994; Jibu and Yasue, in press; Penrose, 1994; Stapp, 1993)
is fueled in large part by what Stapp calls "the fundamentally holistic character
of the quantum mechanical description [of] nature [which is] perhaps its most
basic and pervasive feature" (3.12). Since consciousness, too, in some difficult
to define sense is holistic in character, the hope has arisen that consciousness
can finally be explained in quantum terms. Classical mechanics, on the other
hand, does not naturally accommodate consciousness, as Stapp nicely shows. His
theory of consciousness is problematically founded, however, which vitiates
the impact of his article.
2. The Brain as Measuring Device
2.1 Lets consider Stapp's view that the brain is, at a certain level selected
in evolution, a quantum measuring device where Heisenberg actual events are
The brain is, in effect, treated as a Heisenberg-type quantum measuring device.
The mental life of each human being is representable as a sub-sequence
of the full sequence of Heisenberg events." (Stapp, 1993, p. 201)
The neural wave function enfolds superposed possibilities, and then consciousness
chooses one classical branch and annihilates the others. The choice is "unruly,"
Stapp (1993, p.32) says, "not individually controlled by any known law of physics."
So the heart of consciousness is random on Stapp's view. He hopes that some
future physics will find a law (1993, p.216), but it certainly looks like barring
an enormous revolution in quantum physics, Stapp has installed chance deep in
his theoretical framework, where the quantum choices associated with conscious
events take place:
The question arises: What determines which of the alternative
possible brain activities is actualized by an actual event? According to contemporary
quantum theory, two factors contribute to that quantum choice. The first is
the local deterministic evolution of tendencies governed by the Heisenberg
equation of motion...Then an actual event occurs. This event actualizes one
of the distinct top-level patterns of brain activity, and hence selects one
of these distinct possible course of action. This selection is, according
to contemporary quantum theory, made by the second factor: #pure chance#.
(Stapp, 1993, p.168-9, emphasis added).
2.2 This unhappy result motivates a reconsideration of the assumption that the
brain is a quantum measuring device. Lets consider a different model, which
I call U/Y, since it is based in Umezawa's (1993) formulation of quantum field
theory and Yasue's extension of quantum field theory to quantum neurophysics
(e.g., Yasue et al, 1988; Yasue, Jibu and Pribram, 1991; Jibu et al, 1994; Jibu
and Yasue, in press). Since Stapp is tightly linked to Heisenberg, I will call
that model, which implies a random function to consciousness, H/S. I think that
the brain is not properly considered a measuring device in U/Y, and in the reformulation,
as we shall see, the troublesome random effects of consciousness are replaced
by a more congenial cybernetic consciousness which is surprisingly consonant
with the traditional notion of self as agent.
3. Yasue's Quantum Brain Dynamics
3.1 The brain is remarkable in that it provides a variety of substrates for
quantum fields. Different brain substrates for quantum fields have different
functions. The sensory quantum field, for example, supervenes on oscillating
biomolecules of high dipole moment in the neuronal membrane. When the pumping
rate reaches a critical value, Froehlich condensation occurs with macroscopic
coherence of quanta (Froehlich, 1968).
3.2 Another quantum field-supporting biosubstrate is a dense nanolevel web of
protein molecules which penetrates neuronal and neuroglial membrane boundaries.
I call this filamentous web the "nanolevel neuropil." Inside the neuron the
nanolevel neuropil consists not only of microtubules but also neurofibrils and
other structures which connect via protein strands to proteins floating in the
cell membrane. Outside the neuron in the synaptic cleft is the extracellular
matrix of collagen and glyco-conjugates, which are also connected to membrane
proteins, so that a pervasive web is formed.
3.3 There are quasi-crystalline water molecules within the microtubules and
associated with hydrophylic regions on the web of protein fila- ments. This
ordered water is yet another brain biosubstrate for a quantum field which supports
super-radiance and self-induced trans- parency within the microtubules (Jibu
et al, 1994).
3.4 Jibu and Yasue (1992, 1993) have proposed, following some earlier suggestions
by Umezawa (e.g. Ricciardi & Umezawa, 1967), that vacuum states of this
water rotational field record memory. I have suggested that the function of
the nanolevel neuropil is cognitive (Globus, 1995).
3.5 There is a fourth quantum field substrate where an interaction takes place
between the sensory quantum field and the cognition/memory quantum field. This
is a plasma of charged particles interacting with the electromagnetic field.
The structure of this bio-plasma is peculiar: it is divided into two very thin
layers separated by a permeable membrane. Membrane channels open and close,
and ions rush back and forth between the two layers down electrical and chemical
gradients. It is in this perimembranous bioplasma, whose state is given by the
ionic density distribution, that sensory and cognition/memory quantum fields
interact. In this interaction of quantum fields, classical orders may be formed
(as when the multiplication of complex conjugates gives a real number).
4. U/Y v. H/S
4.1 The conception of the brain is far richer in U/Y than H/S; for U/Y, the
brain generates second order quantum fields. A Geiger counter or Schroedinger's
cat box has a quantum field description (as a Bogoliubov transformation of the
quantized field) but such ordinary measurement devices do not sustain quantum
fields like the brain does. So reality is described by wave functions, both
microscopic and macroscopic, and among those macroscopic realities are well-
developed human brains which themselves sustain quantum fields and their interactions.
4.2 We should not think of these second order quantum fields as making measurements
but as offering possibilities to the match. Both sensory input and cognition/memory
participate in the evolution of the state variable by offering possibilities
to the match, but the latter is far richer than the former. I have previously
called this rich quantum plenum of superposed possibilities the "holoworld"
(Globus, 1987) and suggested that the probabilities of the various possibilities
are tuned (Globus, 1995). The more limited possibilities of sensory input continually
interact with the tuned holoworld, and a classical order continually unfolds
in the perimembranous bioplasma.
4.3 So instead of a measurement collapsing the wave function of a quantum field
to a classical order, we have a match between quantum cognition/memory and quantum
reality, a match in which classical order is unfolded.
5. Quantum Cybernetics
5.1 In the U/Y model, there is no consciousness with a random core. Instead
consciousness is cybernetic
. We need more background in Yasue's quantum
brain dynamics to see how this works. (See especially Yasue et al (1988) and
Yasue, Jibu & Pribram (1991)).
5.2 The ionic density distribution of the perimembranous bioplasma is the state
variable. The phase waves of the sensory and cognition/memory quantum fields
are control variables. The cybernetic system is accordingly described by a wave
function equal to the phase waves multiplied by the square root of the ionic
density distribution. The equation for the evolution of this wave function is
Schroedinger-like. The wave function of the cognition/memory quantum field steers
the evolution of the perimembranous bioplasma toward certain possibilities,
some of which are actualized in the complex match with the possibilities of
the sensory input flux.
5.3 What rids U/Y of the randomness at the heart of H/S is that funda- mental
physical conservation laws come into play, so that the quantum field interactions
in the perimembranous bioplasma are symmetry- conserving with respect to sensory
input. Cognition/memory is tied to reality in virtue of the match, and the result
of the match conserves real invariance. Furthermore, there is a fundamental
optimization principle, identical to Hamilton's principle of least action (in
which the kinetic energy minus the potential energy is minimized along the trajectory
of a moving particle), as applied to a particular system's dynamics. So evolution
of the neural wave function is not random but optimized under Yasue's principle
of least neural action.
5.4 Instead of consciousness collapsing a quantum superposition in a succession
of quantum jumps, we have consciousness offering a quantum plenum of superposed
possibilities to the match with the more restricted possibilities of sensory
input. Instead of a saltatory world line in the Heisenberg succession of objective
tendencies and actual events, there is a continuous unfolding of worlds from
5.5 The quantum cybernetics here are nonlocal in one of Stapp's senses (D.4c).
Now one of the self's defining properties is that it has no location. (Thus
Descartes distinguishes res cogitans
from res extensa
the self, as agent, controls. It is tempting to identify the unlocalizable self
with nonlocality and its control with quantum cybernetics. Succinctly put: I
am nonlocal control.
So instead of the randomness at the core of consciousness
found in H/S, there is nonlocal control construed as self-agency.
6.1 Classical mechanics cannot naturally accommodate consciousness, whereas
quantum mechanics can, but the Heisenberg/Stapp approach, in which consciousness
collapses the neural wave function, leaves the conscious function unrestricted
by known physical principles, which is suspiciously Cartesian. Thus despite
its quantum basis, Stapp leaves quantum brain theory and quantum consciousness
mired in metaphysics.
6.2 For the Umezawa/Yasue approach, in contrast, consciousness (qua cognition/memory)
participates in an interaction. Consciousness is a quantum eruption offering
possibilities to the match with sensory input and thus with reality. Mental
states are not randomly chosen in mental acts but conserve real symmetry and
evolve under optimal control (i.e., minimization of the neural action). Cybernetic
conscious- ness here is fully consistent with the first physical principles
of quantum field theory.
6.3 The key moves in shifting from H/S to U/Y are (1) recognizing that brain
substrates uphold second-order quantum fields, and so should not be treated
as ordinary physical measuring devices, and (2) replacing the random collapse
of the neural wave function by a complex match which conserves input symmetry
in the unfolding of classical orders.
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