I’ve been having an on-going discussion
with a colleague about mind-brain duality and the nature of consciousness –
when we both came across a piece of writing (author unknown) which goes
something like this:

“If we work up a competent
knowledge of the physics and electrical engineering of our TV sets, that
knowledge will not help us to decide how far to trust the person talking on the
screen". This was in the context of Mari Jibu and Kunio Yasue’s
theoretical framework, Quantum Brain Dynamics (QBD) to help examine
consciousness scientifically.

I wanted to pull together my
thoughts and at the same time try and better understand QBD. This work seems to
be based on the original physical theory of memory and brain functioning found in
the work by Ricciardi and Umezawa in the 1960s. Jibu and Yasue aim to reveal
the kind of physical phenomena that might underpin the process of consciousness
from a physical point of view.

As we know there are numerous models
explaining consciousness and even George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four bleak outlook
is a contender in Daniel Dennett's multiple drafts model of consciousness; a
theory of consciousness based upon Cognitivism.

David Bohm took the view that
quantum theory and relativity contradicted one another, and that this
contradiction implied that there existed a more fundamental level in the
physical universe pointing towards a deeper theory. This more fundamental level
was proposed to represent an undivided wholeness and an implicate order, from
which arises the explicate order of the universe as we experience it.

Bohm's proposed implicate order
applies both to matter and consciousness, and he suggests that it could explain
the relationship between them. Mind and matter are here seen as projections
into our explicate order from the underlying reality of the implicate order.
Bohm claims that when we look at the matter in space, we can see nothing in
these concepts that helps us to understand consciousness.

Bohm sees the movement, change or
flow and also the coherence of experiences, such as listening to music as a
manifestation of the implicate order. He claims to derive evidence for this from
the work of Jean Piaget in studying infants. Bohm, however, never proposed any
specific brain mechanism by which his implicate order could emerge in a way
that was relevant to consciousness, nor any means by which the propositions
could be tested or falsified.

Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff
collaborated to produce the theory known as Orchestrated Objective Reduction
(Orch-OR) although each initially developing their ideas independently. Penrose came to the problem from the point of
view of pure mathematics and in particular Gödel's theorem.

Gödel, in 1931 proved that any
theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent
and complete. Further to that, for any consistent formal theory that proves
certain basic arithmetic truths there is an arithmetical statement that is
true, but not provable in the theory. To put this in more simple terms; any
system which is expressive enough to be consistent and complete is also
expressive enough to contain self-referential statements which doom it to
incompleteness.

In the 1989 book, The Emperor's
New Mind, Penrose argued that the theorem showed that the brain had the ability
to go beyond what could be achieved by axioms or formal systems. He argued that
this meant that the brain had some additional function that was not based on
algorithms.

Penrose went on to consider what
it was in the human brain that was not driven by algorithms. Given the
algorithm-based nature of most of physics, he decided that the random choice of
position etc. that occurs when a quantum wave collapses into a particle was the
only possibility for a non-computable process. However, Penrose conceded that
the randomness of the wave function collapse, although free from algorithms, is
not really a basis for any useful form of human understanding.

Penrose proposed a second form of
wave function collapse that could apply where quanta did not interact with the
environment, but might collapse on their own accord. He suggests that each
quantum superposition has its own piece of space-time curvature, and when these
become separated by more than the Planck length, they become unstable and
collapse.

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