Re: Nucleus Accumbens Transplant

Zenarchy (
Tue, 1 Dec 1998 20:18:45 -0800

From: Anders Sandberg <>
>And frankly, quantum effects most probably have nothing to do with
>anything in the CNS (Penrose, Hameroff et al are widely regarded as
>silly by neuroscientists). OK, I might be wrong (and in that case I
>will admit it to whoever proves it on his or her Nobel lecture here in
>Stockholm), but the q-mind theory has no extraordinary evidence
>backing up its extraordinary claims.

I think I know what you mean when you write that quantum effects most probably have nothing to do with anything in the CNS. You mean that quantum effects do not result in cognitive effects, and that cognition and other CNS function does not interface or interact with matter at the quantum level, yes?

Of course, quantum effects determine brain behavior and brain structure in the same way that they determine behavior in computers, molecules, galaxies and everything else in the universe. So, for instance, laws of quantum mechanics predict the limits of dimension in building nano-structures, and the speed at which systems can process information.

Do the microtubules of the human brain, operating at the quantum level (since their tiny dimensions will only allow a single file flow of photons, electrons, or other signal carrying particles), indicate any kind of threshold in terms of the self-organization of a complex adaptive system? I mean, Penrose and his pals theorize that the uncertainty principle has some connection to what some call /free will/... and since free will can't exist unless indeterminability exists, then human free will depends on this uncertainty which occurs (or obtains) at the level of physics where quantum effects make a difference.

Between phenomena at the sub-atomic level and those at the human cognitive level, hundreds of brain structures operate. William Calvin, Francis Crick, and other scientists have focused on CNS structures observable via EEG, PET, MRI, X-rays, CAT scans, patch clamping, MEG, and cerebral arteriography. Powerful tools to look into the brain. But not powerful enough to collect any evidence in support of the q-mind hypothesis.

Without quantum effects... if quantum effects did not make up part of our universe, obviously brains could not operate in the fashion that they do; just as stars could not behave in the manner that they do. So, in that respect, quantum effects have something to do with the CNS, although they may not actually explain self-awareness and cognition.

The discovery that brains use structures (microtubules) which have dimensions that make them susceptible to quantum effects, places much of cognitive science in the realm of quantum physics... and since this field baffles ordinary brains like me... and since everyone recognizes Roger Penrose as a genius... well naturally we yield this mystery to his and your superior capability.

Penrose may have penetrated this mystery farther with mathematics, which I can't follow, as I can't follow the calculations of Copernicus, having stopped just short of calculus. We await a Galileo who can provide visual or other empirical evidence to validate astonishing hypotheses. Nevertheless, the best tool at our disposal to help us apprehend the conundrum of cognition, remains our CNS.

As that rascal Ambrose Bierce has defined it "Mind, n. A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. Its chief activity consists in the endeavor to ascertain its own nature, the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing but itself to know itself with." It makes me happy that Marvin Minsky included that quote in _The Society of Mind." -zen