Keeping time: could quantum beating in microtubules be the basis for the neural synchrony related to consciousness?

J Integr Neurosci. 2014 Jun;13(2):293-311. doi: 10.1142/S0219635214400019.


This paper discusses the possibility of quantum coherent oscillations playing a role in neuronal signaling. Consciousness correlates strongly with coherent neural oscillations, however the mechanisms by which neurons synchronize are not fully elucidated. Recent experimental evidence of quantum beats in light-harvesting complexes of plants (LHCII) and bacteria provided a stimulus for seeking similar effects in important structures found in animal cells, especially in neurons. We argue that microtubules (MTs), which play critical roles in all eukaryotic cells, possess structural and functional characteristics that are consistent with quantum coherent excitations in the aromatic groups of their tryptophan residues. Furthermore we outline the consequences of these findings on neuronal processes including the emergence of consciousness.

Keywords: Consciousness; microtubules; neural synchrony; quantum biology; quantum coherence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Brain / physiology
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Periodicity*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena
  • Quantum Theory*