Christof Koch & Florian Mormann on the neural correlates of consciousness

The brain and consciousness specialist  Christof Koch defined already in his “The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach” (from 2004) the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) as the minimal set of neural events and structures sufficient for a specific conscious percept or a conscious (explicit) memory.

Together with famous epileptologist Florian Mormann Dr. Koch has written a post on Scholarpedia, targeting the same topic. It’s a very interesting article, well worth reading (and believe me, it’s not that difficult to understand). Click on this link: http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Neural_correlates_of_consciousness .

As an “aperitif” I list that article’s subheadings:

I beg you, if you are interested in what consciousness is and how it evolved, don’t hesitate to read this article. Just click the link here above.

Here is a quote from the article:

Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness

It is implicitly assumed by most neurobiologists that the relevant variables giving rise to consciousness are to be found at the neuronal level, among the synaptic release or the action potentials in one or more population of cells, rather than at the molecular level.

A few scholars have proposed that macroscopic quantum behaviors underlie consciousness. Of particular interest here is entanglement, the observation that the quantum states of multiple objects, such as two coupled electrons, may be highly correlated even though they are spatially separated, violating our intuition about locality (entanglement is also the key feature of quantum mechanics hoped to be exploited in quantum computers). The role of quantum mechanics for the photons received by the eye and for the molecules of life is undisputed. But there is no evidence that any components of the nervous system – a 37o Celsius warm and wet tissue strongly coupled to its environment – display quantum entanglement. And even if quantum entanglement were to occur inside individual cells, diffusion and action potential generation and propagation, the principal mechanism for getting information into and out of neurons, would destroy superposition. At the cellular level, the interaction of neurons is governed by classical physics (Koch and Hepp 2006).

MY COMMENT: Many woos believe that consciousness is able to survive brain death. But that claim is contradicted by what can be read in that quote from Koch & Mormann’s Scholarpedia article. And the physicist Max Tegmark agrees with them, see for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind . A quote from that Wikipedia article:

Criticism by Max Tegmark [against the quantum mind proposition]

The main argument against the quantum mind proposition is that quantum states in the brain would decohere before they reached a spatial or temporal scale at which they could be useful for neural processing, although in photosynthetic organisms quantum coherence is involved in the efficient transfer of energy, within the timescales calculated by Tegmark.Quantum biology.This argument was elaborated by the physicist, Max Tegmark. Based on his calculations, Tegmark concluded that quantum systems in the brain decohere at sub-picosecond timescales commonly assumed to be too short to control brain function.

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Filed under Brain, Consciousness, Neuroscience

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