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Medical Quantum Physics, Neuroscience and Consciousness

  1. Jul 27, 2009 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 27, 2009 #2

    apeiron

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    The basic issue here, as ever, is that classical physics does not seem up to accounting for the mind, so the instinct of many is to dig down deeper, smaller, descend to the next level of physical explanation, which is QM in some form.

    But there is a better alternative. Instead take the expanded view of causality afforded by systems science (the broad church that includes cybernetics, hierarchy theory, semiotics, dissipative structure, holism).

    This paper does not explore that other option at all. As a result, it gets a lot of stuff back to front like the "attentional bottleneck" - an issue that can be easily explained even in simple classical/computational information processing terms.

    (In this particular case, the literature on anticipatory mechanism and forward modelling)
     
  4. Jul 27, 2009 #3
    Neurobiology student here.

    I've seen a lot lately about using physics to describe neurological phenomena; one can think of the conceptualization of the brain as a 'gestalt'-ized method of conceptualizing it.

    Systems science is being broadly explored.

    The article is on to something. What physical changes, for example, occur in atoms in neurons as an action potential travels down the neuron?
     
  5. Jul 27, 2009 #4
    The beginning of the article seems to imply that the author believes quantum mechanics can accomodate freewill and that quantum mechanics invokes consciousness in the measurement process:

    "contemporary physical theory differs profoundly from classical physics on the important matter of how the consciousness of human agents enters into the structure of empirical phenomena"

    It sounds like the "consciousness causes collapse" interpretation given by Wigner. This isn't a mainstream interpretation at all.
     
  6. Jul 27, 2009 #5

    apeiron

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    This would be a good example to differentiate the metaphysical presumptions you might feel inclined to make.

    So regarding these physical changes, should we expect:

    A) QM uncertainty to contribute to the "information processing"?

    B) QM uncertainty to be something the system is trying to filter out - noise that would otherwise disrupt its classical functional.

    Now we can get into neurophysiological evidence that top-down attentional states sharpen up low-level neural reponses. The receptive fields narrow. Synaptic transmission becomes potentiated. The system looks crisper as if B is the case.

    QM could affect action at the molecular level. The evidence is that consciousness is correlated with the filtering out of such sources of noise.
     
  7. Jul 28, 2009 #6
    I'm not making any metaphysical assumptions. The article's metaphysical assumptions are a bit absurd, but it does make an interesting point - we haven't really examined the brain much in a neurophysical sense.
     
  8. Jul 28, 2009 #7

    apeiron

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    What does that mean? If you are talking about a QM basis to consciousness, whole conferences have been devoted to putative mechanism.
     
  9. Mar 12, 2010 #8
    I read few pages from the article and I must say that I didn't find anything useful... no useful observations...
     
  10. Mar 13, 2010 #9

    somasimple

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  11. Mar 13, 2010 #10

    apeiron

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    Libet didn't claim his conscious mental field was a quantum mechanism as far as I recall. He actually was thinking of a mental field. QM is more about the general machinery of fields.
     
  12. Mar 13, 2010 #11

    somasimple

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  13. Mar 13, 2010 #12

    apeiron

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    Not seeing anything on Libet. Which actual post?

    I talked to Libet about his CMF theory before he even published it. That was 15 years ago and he really wasn't thinking of quantum effects from what I remember.
     
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