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JOURNAL ARTICLE

The physical nature of subjective experience and its interaction with the brain

Fredric Schiffer
Medical Hypotheses 2019, 125: 57-69
30902153
Penrose and Hameroff assert that brain computations, including quantum computations, involving hydrophobic areas of microtubules whose electron clouds go into orchestrated superpositions and reductions that lead to proto-conscious elements, or "bings" that become orchestrated into conscious experiences. Their assertion, however, like the findings of the neural correlates of consciousness, does not explain subjectivity, but rather describes necessary conditions for it. Many scientists, including Panksepp, Demasio, and Tononi, have each made great contributions to the field, but none explains how material biological processes acquire subjectivity. Yet, the fact is that subjectivity exists and is and of great importance to evolution. Penrose argues that understanding, which involves subjectivity, must be brought into physics, perhaps an undiscovered aspect. Subjectivity is always of or about certain living brain information even though most brain functions do not have subjectivity. Many quantum fields are known to exist and follow Dyson's definition: "a kind of tension or stress which can exist in empty space in the absence of matter. It reveals itself by producing forces, which act on any material objects that happen to lie in the space the field occupies." My hypothesis is that there may be undiscovered quantum fields, which unlike known fields, induce subjectivity when they interact with certain brain information. They emit quantum particles that exert force and cause changes to material objects (brain patterns conveying information) with which they interact. Information that transports meaning to living material exerts force through the understanding it conveys. There is a continuous interplay between experience and brain information. Experiences profoundly inform the brain and alter brain structure, function, and behavior, and local and integrated brain functions process information and initiate multiple associated experiences. Most experience is non-conscious, as discussed by Wright and others, like the soundtrack of a movie to which our brains respond continuously and emotionally even though, we are only intermittently consciously aware of it. I will explore how non-conscious experience may relate to the self, and how it might become conscious. I will offer present support and directions for testing this plausible hypothesis, as well as potential clinical applications in psychology.

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