Origins: Brain and Self Organization

By Karl Pribram | Go to book overview

Abstract

Laser-like long-range coherent quantum phenomena resulting from the instantiation of superradiance and self-induced tranparency take place in microtubules of the cytoskeletal network. By taking into account the often neglected interaction between the electric dipole of water molecules confined within a microtubule and the quantized electromagnet field, it is shown that microtubules play the role of non-linear coherent optical devices. Unlike laser phenomena, superradiance is a specific quantum mechanical ordering phenomenon with characteristic time much shorter than that of thermal interaction, so microtubules may be thought to form an ideal optical network free from both thermal noise and loss. Such a superradiant optical network in cytoskeletal microtubule structure may provide us with a new understanding of holographic brain activity, biophoton emission and the origin of anesthesia.


1 Introduction

In the mid 1960's the advent of optical holography heralded a new departure in the understanding of the relationship between brain, memory and perception. The resistance of aspects of memory and perception to relatively extensive brain damage indicated that memory storage and perceptual processing are distributed procedures. Before the mathematical development of ( Gabor's holographic equations became available ( Gabor 1948), it was difficult to imagine how such a distributed process might be described.

Over the next three decades computer programs inspired by holography were developed, reflecting some of the associative characteristics of the parallel distributed processes that constitute the essence of holographic optical procedures. These connectionist or neural network procedures made it possible to simulate in vitro many perceptual and mnemonic processes and to explore the extent and limitations of the simulations.

It was recognized that an unmodified holographic metaphor was an inappropriate model for brain processing because its spread function is unlimited (e). Data from neurophysiological experiments showed that the cortical function modelled by holography is better represented by a sinusoid limited by a Gaussian envelope - a mathematical formulation put forward by Gabor ( 1946; 1968) to measure the maximum efficiency with which a telephone message could be sent across the Atlantic cable. Gabor used the same equations used by Heisenberg to describe units in microphysics and, therefore, called the unit of communication a "quantum of information." The possibility confronting brain science is therefore to probe the mechanisms that lead to the processing of quanta of information by the brain.

The Gabor function, or something qualitatively similar describes the functional receptive fields of cortical neurons when they respond to sensory stimulation. These receptive fields are products of densely interconnected dendrites and axons that bring in the results of remote stimulation. The question arises as to how this synapto-dendritic field becomes configured by a sensory input. The possibility to be explored in the current paper is that

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