The Entwined Mysteries of Anesthesia and Consciousness

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sciborg2

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« on: September 01, 2019, 08:40:45 pm »
I can with great effort make out what some of the research is saying, but it is interesting that anesthesia is a mystery that could connect quantum biology to the Hard Problem in an evidential as opposed to merely philosophically speculative sense.

Hameroff in 2006:

The Entwined Mysteries of Anesthesia and Consciousness: Is There a Common Underlying Mechanism?

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Field theories gave way to computer analogies, but zero-phase-lag γ synchrony has rekindled collective field approaches to binding and consciousness. Some theories suggest complex, brain-wide electromagnetic fields generated by neural electrophysiology manifest binding and consciousness.93 But neuronal-based electromagnetic fields are shunted by glia and too weak to account for long-range coherence.26,27

An important clue may be that anesthetic gases are the only pharmacologic agents that act without forming covalent or ionic bonds with their targets (as far as their nonpolar effects are concerned). Relatively selective in affecting consciousness while sparing other brain activities, anesthetic gases act via  London forces which are quantum interactions.

Quantum implies the smallest units of matter and energy, but at the quantum level (e.g.  , atomic and subatomic scales), the laws of physics differ strangely from our everyday “classical” world. Quantum particles (1) can interconnect nonlocally and correlate instantaneously over distance (quantum entanglement, long-range dipole correlations), (2) can unify into single entities (quantum coherence, condensation), and also (3) can behave as waves and exist in two or more states or locations simultaneously (quantum superposition). When superpositioned particles are measured or observed, they immediately reduce to single, definite states or locations, known as quantum state reduction or “collapse of the wave function.” Superposition and quantum state reduction are used in quantum computers in which information (e.g.  , bits of 1 or 0) may be temporarily represented as quantum information (e.g.  , quantum bits, or qubits, of both 1 and 0), which reduces to classical information as output.94

It is generally assumed that quantum effects are confined to atomic scales, but the boundary between quantum and classical domains is ill-defined, and quantum effects can occur at macroscopic sizes.

Hameroff in 2018 (note 2014 was the year Orch-OR got a major prediction apparently correct):

Anesthetics act in quantum channels in brain microtubules to prevent consciousness

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“Quantum consciousness” theories suggest that entanglement, coherence, and quantum computing occur in the brain, offering potential solutions to challenges in cognitive neuroscience, e.g., the “binding problem.” In conscious vision, perceptual information for an object’s shape, color, motion, and meaning is processed at different times in different areas of visual cortex (V1, V2, V3, and so forth). Yet somehow, the disparate content is “bound together” in unified scenes, e.g., a red kite flapping in the wind. More generally, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and visual sensory modalities, along with memory and feelings, all apparently processed in different brain locations at different times, are also bound together, integrated, in unified conscious perceptions. (Indeed, Mashour2 has suggested “unbinding” as the key effect of anesthetic action.) Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance”—entanglement—may quite literally bind and integrate disparate brain content into unified conscious moments, like frames in a film or video. Sequences of such moments can give rise to our familiar stream of consciousness.

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But anesthetic action suggests consciousness also involves electron cloud dipole pairs. Such pairs have integer spin numbers and are “bosons,” which disobey the Pauli exclusion principle and can condense into unitary coherent states. The relationship between (nuclear spin) fermions and (electron pair) bosons is unclear. Perhaps the rotational force of nuclear spin magnetic moments (torque) “tunes” or pumps quantum electromechanical activity in neuronal membrane and/or microtubule proteins to increase their vibrational frequency, the opposite of anesthetic dampening, and thus “promote” consciousness.

Quantum consciousness theories portray the brain as a multiscale hierarchy originating in quantum vibrational states at small, fast scales inside proteins in the neuronal membrane and/or cytoskeleton. These may amplify and resonate upward over many orders of magnitude (figs. 1 and 2). Rather than a computer, the brain may be more like an orchestra; rather than a computational output, consciousness may be more like music.
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https://docs.google.com/document/d/12NfnxYU5ZSur-RahRNI-bNMnTjxE12vyGWmY46Xq2h0/edit

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mostly.harmless

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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2019, 07:38:15 am »
The binding argument appeals to me because (I think) it's elegant, helped by the research showing that there are different processing / fulfilment centers, hence it must be bound together somewhere into one holistic 'experience'.

One thing that baffles me is that this has not a greater focus in research (or I'm unaware). Anesthetics provides an On/Off switch of sorts that makes it the perfect starting point (again, in my opinion) for research into consciousness. 

I've never been aneasthesized but the On/Off analogy is what I've read it as described as (when it goes correctly).

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sciborg2

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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2019, 09:58:48 pm »
Yeah, it's weird that there isn't more effort put into examining anesthesia, or incorporating an answer for how it works when people talk about theories of consciousness.

Health Resources:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/12NfnxYU5ZSur-RahRNI-bNMnTjxE12vyGWmY46Xq2h0/edit

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