Anesthesia, consciousness and hydrophobic pockets a unitary quantum hypothesis of anesthetic action
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Anesthetic gas molecules are recognized to act by van der Waals (London dispersion) forces in hydrophobic pockets of select brain proteins to ablate consciousness. Enigmatic features of consciousness have defied conventional neurophysiological exp lanations and prompted suggestions for supplemental occurrence of macroscopic quantum coherent states and quantum computation in the brain. Are these feasible? During conscious (non-anesthetic) conditions, endogenous Van der Waals London dispersion forces occur among non-polar amino acid groups in hydrophobic pockets of neural proteins and help regulate their conformation/function. London forces are weak instantaneous couplings between pairs of electron induced dipoles (e.g. between adjacent non-polar amino acid groups), and are quantum mechanical effects capable of supporting quantum superposition/computation and macroscopic quantum coherence. Quantum effects mediated by endogenous London forces in hydrophobic pockets of select neural proteins may be necessary for consciousness. The mechanism of anesthetics may be to inhibit (by exogenous London forces) the necessary quantum states.
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Abninder Litt, Chris Eliasmith, Fred Kroon, Steven Weinstein & Paul Thagard (2006). Is the Brain a Quantum Computer? Cognitive Science 30 (3):593-603.
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