THE NATURE OF LIFE
Written by Dr. Nash Popovic
The sheer complexity of the human brain on the cellular level is hard to grasp. It is estimated that it contains approximately 86 billion neurons, and an average neuron has around 1,000 synapses (points of contact with other neurons, where an electric impulse turns into a chemical reaction). These give an unimaginably high number of possible combinations. Any detailed description of the brain structure and its functioning is far beyond the scope of these materials, so we will only outline those aspects that are relevant to the relation between the brain and the non-material side of the living organism. In a nutshell, neurons, via synaptic links, enable electro-chemical processes that provide the material basis for consciousness. They create waves that via awareness become information or experience, and in this way affect the soul. We propose that the interaction goes in the other direction too: the brain is susceptible to the influence of one’s intent. Putting them together, we can say that the brain is the organ of consciousness.
The Mechanisms That Enable Consciousness
There is no doubt that the brain is instrumental for consciousness, especially for the formation of specific patterns, such as images, that correspond to, or are associated with, the phenomena and events of physical life. The likely mechanism that enables this process is the interference (the combining) of coherent electromagnetic fields at the point of dendritic interactions. This interference can produce holographic-like representations. It also allows memory to be recalled by a ‘reference’ signal (any associated element can be a trigger, a ‘reminder’ for the activation of the pattern), and enables the storing of potential information in a distributed rather than localised manner (for more detail, see section ‘Memory’ in the chapter The Intermediaries of the Mind).
On more basic levels, though, the very complex structure of the brain does not seem to be necessary for consciousness. A cytoskeleton consisting of microtubules could play a similar role to the nervous system in cells. Pribram, Penrose, Hameroff, Schempp and many others have applied quantum physics to analysing the relation between consciousness and neuronal functioning. They claim that quantum coherence (which means that when two quantum systems interact, their wave functions become ‘phase entangled’) can