Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Study Favors Quantum Mind

22.09.2014

Quantum coherence in brain protein resembles plant photosynthesis

Are the mysteries of quantum physics and consciousness related?


Top: A microtubule, polymer of ‘tubulin’ proteins inside neurons. Bottom: Tubulin with 8 tryptophan chromophores (blue). Red lines and numbers between tryptophans indicate dipole coupling strengths in cm-1

(image courtesy of: Travis J.A. Craddock)

A fierce debate has raged for decades over whether quantum coherence can occur in the brain to support the conscious mind. In the mid 1990s British physicist Sir Roger Penrose and American anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff proposed that consciousness depends on quantum computations in microtubules inside brain neurons.

The proposal has been viewed skeptically, and harshly over the years, as technological quantum computers require isolation and extreme cold to avoid ‘decoherence’ by thermal vibrations. The conventional wisdom has considered the brain far too “warm, wet and noisy” for seemingly delicate quantum functions.

But nature is resourceful. Photosynthesis, the ubiquitous and essential mechanism by which plants produce food from sunlight, has been shown since 2006 to routinely utilize quantum coherence at warm temperatures. Photons from the sun are absorbed within plant cells, the collected energy then transported through a protein to another region for chemical energy and food.

It turns out that the collected photon energy is first converted to electronic excitations in distinct intra-protein ‘chromophores’, each an array of ‘pi’ electron resonance clouds, and then transported as electronic excitations (‘excitons’), dipole couplings or ‘resonance energy transfers’ which ‘hop’, or spread through the protein, not just from one chromophore to another, but among all chromophores at the same time in quantum coherent superposition! Heat in the form of thermal vibrations pumps, rather than disrupts, quantum coherence, the end result being highly efficient conversion of sunlight to food, extremely important to life on earth.

Back in the brain, microtubules are components of the cytoskeleton inside neurons, cylindrical lattice polymers of the protein ‘tubulin’. Microtubules are theorized to encode memory, regulate synapses and act as quantum computers generating consciousness. The latter claim has been criticized, but now it appears quantum mechanisms eerily similar to those in photosynthesis may operate in tubulins within microtubules.

In an article published September 17 by the Journal of the Royal Society – Interface a team of scientists from Nova Southeastern University and the University of Arizona in the US, and the University of Alberta in Canada used computer simulation and theoretical quantum biophysics to analyze quantum coherence among tryptophan pi resonance rings in tubulin, the component protein in microtubules.

Professor Travis Craddock of Nova Southeastern University and colleagues mapped locations of the tryptophan pi electron resonance clouds in tubulin, and found them analogous to chromophores in photosynthesis proteins.

Eight tryptophans per tubulin are spatially arrayed nanometers apart, geometrically similar to the 7 chromophores in photosynthetic proteins. Calculations showed plausible quantum dipole coupling among tryptophan pi resonance clouds, mediated by exciton hopping or Forster resonance energy transfer (FRET) across the tubulin protein. Quantum coherence was enhanced by mechanical vibrational resonance, also similar to photosynthesis proteins.

Craddock’s team also found that resonance transfer between tryptophans in adjacent tubulins is plausible, e.g. along the microtubule length. This implies the likelihood of quantum coherent states extending through mesoscopic and macroscopic lengths in microtubules.

Along with recent evidence for coherent megahertz vibrations in microtubules, and that anesthetics act to erase consciousness via microtubules, quantum brain biology will become increasingly important.

Professor Jack Tuszynski of the University of Alberta, senior author on the study, “If a potato or rutabaga can utilize quantum coherence, it's likely our brains could have figured it out as well.”

Journal Reference

Travis John Adrian Craddock, Douglas Friesen, Jonathan Mane, Stuart Hameroff, and Jack A. Tuszynski. The feasibility of coherent energy transfer in microtubules. J. R. Soc. Interface, 2014; 11(100): 20140677; DOI:10.1098/rsif.2014.0677 1742-5662

Travis John Adrian Craddock | newswise

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm
16.02.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Supermassive black hole model predicts characteristic light signals at cusp of collision
15.02.2018 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>