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The Quantum Mind | Unraveling The Mysteries
of The Brain And Consciousness |
Advanced Neuroscience Meets Quantum Physics
On The Frontiers of Science
By Marina Rose, QDNA®
QDNA® Living | Neuroscience | Quantum Physics |
Quantum Consciousness | The Field
May 08, 2017
“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery
that we are trying to solve." -- Max Planck, Nobel Prize Winning Theoretical Physicist, Originator of Quantum Theory
For more than half a century, neuroscientists, biologists, psychologists, and philosophers alike have been struggling entirely in vain to understand and explain one of the most profound and fundamental questions of the human experience—what is the true nature of the phenomenon that we call consciousness.
Despite extraordinary breakthroughs in modern neuroscience, including highly advanced technologies that now allow us to create extremely detailed 3D mapping of major complex functions of the brain and investigate neural circuit functions unlike ever before, the question remains one of the most intriguing and enduring scientific and philosophical mysteries today. Even those who adamantly disagree can still agree on one thing--the truth is that we really just don’t know.
So what exactly is it that gives us this complex awareness of both the reality that we perceive around us and our existence within it, and is it even related to the physical body and the functions of the brain at all, or is it something infinitely more mysterious and deeply profound?
Scientists in one camp focus entirely on probing the depths of the physical body and the intricacies of the human mind for answers, convinced that consciousness at its core must be an epiphenomenon of the brain alone, and in time, ever improving neuroscience will eventually allow us to locate and quantify it. Whereas others, particularly those researching on the leading edge of quantum physics, are not so convinced at all, and instead equate looking for consciousness inside the brain to be the same as looking inside your television for the TV signal. It’s not there, because like our television, they believe that the brain is merely the receiver and not the generator of the signal, recognizing that the complex nature of what we call consciousness is far more than the simple model of electromagnetic waves and neurons firing inside the brain. And now, more so than ever, as new research is pushing us ever further out into the leading edge of scientific frontiers, increasingly the answer to this all important question is leading us far beyond the complex maze of neuroscience, crossing into the once thought unlikely philosophical realm, and arriving at the most cutting edge scientific discoveries of quantum physics.
What is Consciousness | The Neuroscience of Being Self-Aware
Although we certainly still don’t know exactly what it is, one thing is for sure, consciousness is most definitely the single most fundamental ingredient of our common human experience.
On the most basic physiological level, medical science considers consciousness the act of being awake and processing information, largely a result of neurological phenomenon. However, most agree that human consciousness is far more than that.
Dr. Antonio Damasio, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience, Psychology and Philosophy at the University of Southern California and Director of the Brain and Creativity Institute, says that being conscious is a "special quality of mind" that creates a state of self-awareness that allows us to perceive ourselves in the world and understand the world around us.
But just how do firing neurons lead to our thoughts and experience of the world?
For researchers like Damasio, who feel the answer to this question lies directly within the brain, new studies that support conscious thinking may be related to a specific portion of the prefrontal cortex may be just what they’ve been looking for.
It’s called the claustrum, a thin, enigmatic, irregular sheet of neurons located on the underside of the neocortex, the portion of the center of the brain that allows us to hear, see, smell, think, reason and remember. Now, a decade long body of research on this mysterious portion of the brain has turned up some surprising discoveries.
Lead by chief neuroscientist Dr. Christof Koch, PhD, former professor at the California Institute of Technology and President and Chief Scientific Officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, in research collaboration with the late British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist Sir Francis Crick--most noted for being the co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953 with James Watson-- Koch and his team have identified neurons in this relatively obscure region of the brain that send a complex web of fibers far throughout the entire cerebral cortex, far beyond where they would ever be expected to project.
According to the Journal of Science Nature, the study revealed large interconnecting branches of neural fibers emanating from the claustrum--including one large single neuron engulfing the brain like a "crown of thorns" that wrapped around its entire outer layer. This massive complex interconnecting neural network could be evidence that the function of the claustrum could in fact be to coordinate inputs and outputs across the entire brain to create consciousness, suggests Koch.
What makes this discovery so important, is that until now the neurons in this area of the brain have remained hidden, largely due to the limitations of brain imaging techniques. However, using UV light and new highly advanced 3D brain mapping, Koch has pioneered a new method of detection that allowed the hidden claustrum neurons to be seen, bringing to light important focus on determining the overall function of this little-known region of the brain.
Although the discoveries made on the claustrum are far from a smoking gun, it is no doubt one of the most advanced theories to date that could pinpoint the biological origins of consciousness. And like most other theories in neuroscience delving into nature of consciousness, Koch is keen to emphasize that there is still so much about the claustrum that we just don’t know. The early research suggests that the claustrum is much more likely to be the equivalent of an orchestra conductor-- rather than the instruments creating music in the orchestra itself. Which in many ways supports the belief of the opposing camp that feels that the true source of the signal simply cannot be found inside the box.
So, can neuroscience alone solve the deep mystery of consciousness?
The 20th century has experienced tremendous breakthroughs in neuroscience with astonishing leaps in our understanding of just how the human mind works, however solving the mystery of consciousness and discovering its actual physical pathways in the brain continues to elude scientists just as much today as it did a century ago, empowering an entirely new school of scientific thought that sits squarely “outside of the box” so to speak, and sees the quantum clues that are being discovered as pointing us towards a much more non-local nature of consciousness, where it is part of a deeper and interconnected component of our larger cosmic universe.
Quantum Consciousness | Quantum Physics And The Paradox Of The Mind
In his landmark New York Times best-selling book Consciousness Explained, American philosopher, writer, cognitive scientist and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University, Dr. Daniel Dennett, PhD says "we do not yet have all the answers to any of the questions of cosmology and particle physics, molecular genetics and evolutionary theory, but we do know how to think about them."
But not so with human consciousness writes Dennett. He argues against the idea that consciousness can be precisely located as a neurological function of the brain and instead puts forth that rather than being "hard-wired" into the physiology of the brain, consciousness is more like software "running on the brain's parallel hardware.” He makes a compelling argument for neuroscientists to think about and warns “not only don't we understand our own consciousness, but also half of the time our brains are actively fooling us.”
Many of the world’s most brilliant thinkers who are researching on the leading edge of quantum physics would most definitely agree. After all, they ought to know. The quantum world has been filled with just as many puzzling riddles and left just as many physicists stumped in their quest to solve the mysteries of the quantum realm as there are baffled neuroscientists trying to nettle out the nature of the brain and consciousness.
Indeed, some would say the fact that despite tremendous scientific advancements we still find ourselves equally confounded as to the true inner cognitive nature of our existence, as we are to the true outer physical nature of our existence, is maybe not just a mere coincidence. At the core there are undeniable parallels, and they’re increasingly leading some physicists to invoke what we’re learning from new quantum discoveries that begin to explain the true nature of our physical reality, as a perfect model to better explain the true nature of consciousness as well. A brave few have even begun to put forth a unifying theory that sees the role of human consciousness as an integral component of a self-aware, conscious, and coherent universe.
Sound a bit far-fetched?
Although the notion of the Quantum Mind or Quantum Consciousness is still met with a great deal of skepticism by some in the scientific community, increasingly all roads appear to lead to the same destination, and with each new quantum discovery, more and more highly distinguished scientists from a truly broad array of disciplines seem to be coming on board. It’s an idea that simply won’t go away. In fact, it’s actually growing.
Ever since Bell's Inequality Theorem Experiments that firmly proved the existence of Quantum Entanglement—what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance"-- and that forever changed the way we think about reality—an ever growing interest in the implications of quantum mechanics has reach far beyond the physicists labs, and has begun to influence nearly every other branch of science. From biologists to medical doctors, to philosophers and even computer engineers, nearly every modern discipline has shifted and expanded its perspective based on the recognition of the significance of quantum phenomena.
The “spooky action” that infamously ruffled Einstein’s feathers so many years ago--the notion that two entangled particles separated by long distances can instantly affect one another—has since been duplicated and further confirmed in a stunning array of different experiments again in recent years.
And that’s just the beginning.
There’s still lots of other spooky phenomena going on in physics labs everywhere.
Quantum mechanics is the mind-bending branch of physics that investigates the ever surprising and utterly unpredictable behavior of subatomic particles like electrons, protons, and neutrons, as well as electromagnetic waves and all the other amazing stuff that makes up the quantum realm. It probes the extremely small world of energy that lies beneath the illusion of solid matter in the world that we see, and explores other deep mysteries of the universe still yet to be solved.
Perhaps the most astonishing of all quantum mysteries is the discovery of the previously unknown nature of wave-particle duality-- and the fact that the final outcome of a quantum experiment can completely change --just by the act of observing it.
How’s that for spooky science!
It’s called the “Observer Effect” which was first discovered by Thomas Young, an English scientist during the early pioneering days of quantum theory, and the implications were huge. It defied the one key fundamental assumption of science, which is that the world out there can be measured objectively, without anything subjective about it. Yet if the subatomic world of particles and waves --that the “real” world out there is made of --can in fact be influenced and even changed depending on how or if we observe it—then what on Earth is “reality” then?
Apparently, whatever it is, it’s much more interactive than ever thought.
It is with the astonishing insight of the “Double-Slit Experiment” which confirmed the Observer Effect that a revolution in science began to emerge. Despite initial disbelief, some of the early quantum pioneers were forced to conclude that if by the very act of observing, the observer definitively affects the outcome of the observed reality, then scientific objectivity must be an illusion, and that consciousness—representing the thought process involved in observing—must be a real and active component in how the quantum realm really works. And if consciousness can affect the outcome of the quantum realm, then it most certainly can affect the outcome of reality itself.
And like any revolution of thought, other quantum pioneers disagreed.
Albert Einstein once famously said, "I like to think the moon is still there even if I am not looking at it."
Although his point regarding the Observer Effect was well taken by most, it’s unfortunate that Einstein did not live to see Bell's Theorem and Quantum Entanglement definitively proven. The subject was famously debated by arguably two of the greatest minds in science, Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, both on opposite sides of the revolution of thought in physics, and great physicist as he was, Einstein was however wrong on this one.
Today, physicists now know that the physical world and “reality” as we think we see it is simply not at all compatible with what we now know to be true in the quantum realm—it only becomes compatible if we consider the notion of what’s come to be known as Quantum Potential--that field of cosmic pure potentiality that’s not yet formed of matter or energy, but rather simply exists in a state of what is “potentially possible”.
Physicists often refer to this realm of potentiality as The Field, and it has given rise to an entirely new paradigm of consciousness that sees the human mind and body as not separate from our physical environment, but rather are part of a vast interconnected field of energy that exists on a quantum level, where consciousness is central in shaping all aspects of our world--from the smallest cellular structure, to the broadest life experiences. In other words, consciousness is the “observer” creating the quantum Observer Effect.
So interactive is our universe, that some suggest that what we are really seeing is the workings of a Quantum Mind, and that the universe only becomes real when we look at it.
This theory of an anthropic (made for us/by us) participatory universe was first put forth by Dr. John Archibald Wheeler, PhD, one of the early 20th century’s most brilliant physicists. He suggested that what we call “reality” is created by the act of observing it—thereby changing the course of the universe by forcing a single outcome from many possible ones. For most, then and even now, the idea is so radical that it’s enough to give anyone a reality check.
Dr. Christopher Timpson, PhD, a Professor of Philosophy and Physics at the University of Oxford says “my natural inclination is to be a realist, but if you’re going to be a realist about the quantum world then you’re left with a world that’s very peculiar.”
So peculiar in fact, that the idea that it exists at all --only because of us—begins to actually seem quite sensible.
In fact, it’s a bit like Back To The Future, where ancient mystics and modern scientists are finally saying the same thing, having arrived at their conclusions from two entirely different worlds.
Science is now validating what Eastern mystics have always known - that we are all part of a dynamic and inseparable web of energy and pure potentiality.
History shows that the early inspiration and evolution for quantum theory points directly to Vedanta, the ancient Indian Vedic tradition and its ancient sacred texts. Vedanta derives its name from the Sanskrit word Veda, literally translated as “Science” or “Knowledge”. Scholars date Vedic science as far back as five to seven-thousands years, perhaps the oldest continuous living tradition in the world. This ancient science was designed to not only show us the outer workings of the universe, but to show us the inner workings of our own consciousness as well. Plank, Bohr, Schrödinger, Einstein and many of the other early founders of quantum physics, were all avid readers of the Vedas, and observed that their experiments in the quantum realm were entirely consistent with what they had read in the ancient Vedic texts, as peculiar as they may seem otherwise.
At a time of great doubt amongst the old prevailing Newtonian mechanistic views of the universe, then held by the scientific community, Werner Karl Heisenberg, the Nobel Prize winning physicist and one of the key creators of quantum mechanics, boldly stated, “quantum theory will not look ridiculous to people who have read Vedanta.”
Today many of our best and most notable physicists would undoubtedly agree.
Dr. Amit Goswani, PhD, Theoretical Quantum Physicist and retired professor from the University of Oregon's Department of Physics and author of the best-selling book, The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World, is a revolutionary amongst a growing body of renegade modern scientists who in recent years has ventured into the domain of the spiritual in an attempt both to interpret and reconcile the seemingly inexplicable findings of quantum mechanics and the role of consciousness. He, like many other notable physicists, asserts that it is consciousness, not matter, that is the ground of all existence, echoing the mystic sages of his native India. He holds that the universe is self-aware, and that it is consciousness that creates the physical world around us.
And if consciousness is central in shaping all aspects of our world, then we can take heart in the wisdom of the mystics --and the science -- that tells us that every thought, every belief, and every action has the power to transform every aspect of our lives, because reality at its core is made manifest through our direct connection to the Field. The integration of this extraordinary quantum and ancient Vedic knowledge directly into the core of our daily lives allows us to see our role in life as that of the active creator, rather than just a mere passive observer, creatively shaping our experiences in a conscious, connected and coherent world.
From cellular structure and communication, to the workings of the mind, Albert Einstein said it best, “The Field is everything”.
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About | Marina Rose, QDNA®
Marina strongly believes that there is nothing that cannot be healed or transformed when the mind, body and emotions are in balance. From over two decades of professional experience, Marina has developed a broad range of instructional programs, seminars and a complete line of organic products to support health and healthy living.
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