"What Is Consciousness?" with Stuart Hameroff

Audio Teleseminars

"What Is Consciousness?" with Stuart Hameroff

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This is a big question and there are many approaches to this mystery. In this teleseminar we explore the question of consciousness with Dr Stuart Hameroff of the University of Arizona, whose approach to consciousness research looks at bringing modern physics into the workings of the brain. His work with anesthetics led him to discover that cellular structures called microtubules, present in neurons as well as most cells, show some interesting patterns of behavior. During states of anesthesia, these structures show less activity than when someone is awake. Hameroff postulated that these microtubules are centers of activity for consciousness and thus stimulated this area of research.

He teamed up with the mathematician Roger Penrose, and they began to apply quantum mechanics to the brain, suggesting that the microtubules in neurons are a sort of mediator between the quantum world and the classical world of the rest of the brain. Quantum behavior, as opposed to the classical behavior displayed by the objects we see around us, allows for all sorts of new realities. At a quantum level objects can be in a few states at once, they can connect over great distances, or perhaps not even exist at all! Quantum behavior just might be weird enough to provide a complete science of consciousness.

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