My good friend and colleague Jeffrey Schwartz (along with Mario Beauregard and Henry Stapp) has just published a paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society that challenges the materialism endemic to so much of contemporary neuroscience. By contrast, it argues for the irreducibility of mind (and therefore intelligence) to material mechanisms.
Quantum physics in neuroscience and psychology: a neurophysical model of mindÃ¢â‚¬â€œbrain interaction
Jeffrey M. Schwartz A1, Henry P. Stapp A2, Mario Beauregard A3 A4 A5
Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B
A1 UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, 760 Westwood Plaza, NPI Los Angeles, CA 90024-1759, USA
A2 Theoretical Physics Mailstop 5104/50A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-8162, USA
A3 DÃƒÂ©partement de Psychologie, Centre de Recherche en Neuropsychologie ExpÃƒÂ©rimentale et Cognition (CERNEC), UniversitÃƒÂ© de MontrÃƒÂ©al, C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-Ville, MontrÃƒÂ©alQuÃƒÂ©bec H3C 3J7, Canada
A4 DÃƒÂ©partement de Radiologie, UniversitÃƒÂ© de MontrÃƒÂ©al, C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-Ville, MontrÃƒÂ©al, QuÃƒÂ©bec H3C 3J7, Canada
A5 Centre de Recherche en Sciences Neurologiques (CRSN), UniversitÃƒÂ© de MontrÃƒÂ©al, C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-Ville, MontrÃƒÂ©al, QuÃƒÂ©bec H3C 3J7, Canada
Abstract: Neuropsychological research on the neural basis of behaviour generally posits that brain mechanisms will ultimately suffice to explain all psychologically described phenomena. This assumption stems from the idea that the brain is made up entirely of material particles and fields, and that all causal mechanisms relevant to neuroscience can therefore be formulated solely in terms of properties of these elements. Thus, terms having intrinsic mentalistic and/or experiential content (e.g. Ã¢â‚¬ËœfeelingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Ã¢â‚¬ËœknowingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and Ã¢â‚¬ËœeffortÃ¢â‚¬â„¢) are not included as primary causal factors. This theoretical restriction is motivated primarily by ideas about the natural world that have been known to be fundamentally incorrect for more than three-quarters of a century. Contemporary basic physical theory differs profoundly from classic physics on the important matter of how the consciousness of human agents enters into the structure of empirical phenomena. The new principles contradict the older idea that local mechanical processes alone can account for the structure of all observed empirical data. Contemporary physical theory brings directly and irreducibly into the overall causal structure certain psychologically described choices made by human agents about how they will act. This key development in basic physical theory is applicable to neuroscience, and it provides neuroscientists and psychologists with an alternative conceptual framework for describing neural processes. Indeed, owing to certain structural features of ion channels critical to synaptic function, contemporary physical theory must in principle be used when analysing human brain dynamics. The new framework, unlike its classic-physics-based predecessor, is erected directly upon, and is compatible with, the prevailing principles of physics. It is able to represent more adequately than classic concepts the neuroplastic mechanisms relevant to the growing number of empirical studies of the capacity of directed attention and mental effort to systematically alter brain function.
Keywords: mind, consciousness, brain, neuroscience, neuropsychology, quantum mechanics