Quantum effects in the understanding of consciousness

J Integr Neurosci. 2014 Jun;13(2):229-52. doi: 10.1142/S0219635214400093.


This paper presents a historical perspective on the development and application of quantum physics methodology beyond physics, especially in biology and in the area of consciousness studies. Quantum physics provides a conceptual framework for the structural aspects of biological systems and processes via quantum chemistry. In recent years individual biological phenomena such as photosynthesis and bird navigation have been experimentally and theoretically analyzed using quantum methods building conceptual foundations for quantum biology. Since consciousness is attributed to human (and possibly animal) mind, quantum underpinnings of cognitive processes are a logical extension. Several proposals, especially the Orch OR hypothesis, have been put forth in an effort to introduce a scientific basis to the theory of consciousness. At the center of these approaches are microtubules as the substrate on which conscious processes in terms of quantum coherence and entanglement can be built. Additionally, Quantum Metabolism, quantum processes in ion channels and quantum effects in sensory stimulation are discussed in this connection. We discuss the challenges and merits related to quantum consciousness approaches as well as their potential extensions.

Keywords: Quantum coherence; consciousness; microtubules; quantum biology.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Quantum Theory*