Consciousness Studies: Birth of an Empirical Discipline?

The Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR model places the essential aspect of consciousness at the level of quantum computation in microtubules within the brain's neurons. "Tubulin" proteins comprising microtubules can switch between states ("bits") and also be in quantum superposition of both states simultaneously ("protein qubits"). In the last several years, books, papers, and conferences have, with varying degrees of success, attempted to link the once-strange bedfellows of science and consciou

Eugene Russo
May 9, 1999


The Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR model places the essential aspect of consciousness at the level of quantum computation in microtubules within the brain's neurons. "Tubulin" proteins comprising microtubules can switch between states ("bits") and also be in quantum superposition of both states simultaneously ("protein qubits").




In the last several years, books, papers, and conferences have, with varying degrees of success, attempted to link the once-strange bedfellows of science and consciousness. The multifaceted nature of consciousness itself, a hallmark of humans and arguably of some animals, has prompted contributions from a variety of scientific and nonscientific disciplines. Conferences on consciousness, like the one that has taken place in Tucson, Ariz., every two years since 1994 and the one set for May 25-29 in Tokyo, commonly incorporate many fields, including psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, physics, mathematics, and philosophy.

The recent resurgence in consciousness studies has been fueled by better, more advanced tools, such...