Quantum cosmology and the hard problem of the conscious brain

King thinks that the transactional interpretation of non-locality can be combined with quantum computing to give a spacetime anticipating system and that this may be basic to the way the brain works. He argues that the brain’s performance is not particularly impressive in terms of what classical computers are good at, but it’s impressive in terms of anticipating environmental and behavioural changes. He also stresses the complex structure of neurons which contrasts to the simplistic way in which their interactions are sometimes modelled in neuroscience. It is suggested that ‘edge-of-chaos’ transition in and out of chaos could be involved in perception. Studies of the olfactory cortex show that there is chaotic excitation forming a wave that eventually settles into a basin in the energy landscape. Sometimes this comprises a new basin, in which case this is part of the learning process. The advantage of a chaotic system is its sensitivity to small differences, allowing them to explore a wide range of possibilities, rather than quickly being trapped in one possibility far from the global optimum. Chaotic activity leads to states where the brain would be very finely balanced between different possibilities, and at this point it might be sufficiently sensitive to be influenced by quantum uncertainty. It has been demonstrated that a single ion channel can excite a hippocampal neuron, which can in turn lead to global changes.

King takes the view that adaption/survival problems of an animal in an open environment are intractable because of the exponential growth of the number of options available. The number of options rapidly exponentiates. A gazelle facing a lion would be frozen in a catatonic state, as a result of a version of Turing’s ‘halting problem’. For a process to be adaptive an organism may be thought to have something between 100 and 1,000ms to make a decision. Quantum models of the mind are suggested to solve this problem, and this might involve processing within cells.. However, King argues that for good adaptive reasons, the brain goes beyond the brute force of quantum computing, to achieve intuitive decisions and creativity both of which involves subjective consciousness. These ideas appear to be similar in spirit to the Penrose concept of non-computability. In general computation seeks a single outcome while creative activity and some other behaviours seeks diversity.

Source: Quantum cosmology and the hard problem – Quantum Mind

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