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Consciousness and the Brain, Part One: Possibilities Within Microtubules, with Stuart Hameroff

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Published on Aug 18, 2015

Stuart Hameroff, MD, is a professor of anesthesiology and psychology at the Banner University Medical Center of the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is also co-founder and director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona. He is author of Ultimate Computing: Biomolecular Consciousness and Nanotechnology. Since 1994, he has organized the “Toward a Science of Consciousness” conferences at the University of Arizona and elsewhere. Working with Sir Roger Penrose, he is the co-author of the “Orch OR” theory of consciousness.

Here he describes his intellectual journey as an anesthesiologist, taking people out of normal waking consciousness and then restoring it on a routine basis. He describes how microtubules, tiny structures within each neuron, can function as molecular computers underlying the electrical spikes normally associated with mental processes. As such, each neuron is capable of processing, perhaps, a trillion times more information than had been previously thought. Single-celled organisms without a nervous system, such as paramecium, seem to use their microtubule cytoskeleton structures for learning and memory as well as other functions. Nevertheless, Hameroff came to realize that, no matter how vast the computing power of the brain might be, computational intelligence is actually very different from consciousness. He argues that consciousness is not a function that simply emerges from the complexity of the nervous system.

New Thinking Allowed host, Jeffrey Mishlove, PhD, is author of The Roots of Consciousness, Psi Development Systems, and The PK Man. Between 1986 and 2002 he hosted and co-produced the original Thinking Allowed public television series. He is the recipient of the only doctoral diploma in "parapsychology" ever awarded by an accredited university (University of California, Berkeley, 1980). His master's degree is in criminology. He teaches parapsychology for ministers in training with the Centers for Spiritual Living through the Holmes Institute. He has served as vice-president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, and is the recipient of its Pathfinder Award for outstanding contributions to the field of human consciousness. He is also past-president of the non-profit Intuition Network, an organization dedicated to creating a world in which all people are encouraged to cultivate and apply their inner, intuitive abilities. His American Indian name, chosen at age eight, is Soaring Eagle.

(Recorded on August 4, 2015)

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