Scientific Validation of Planetary Consciousness
10/14/00 Revised 10/2/02
Abstract: According to the One Mind Model of quantum reality, experience or knowing mediates the
The theory of planetary consciousness has as its basis the notion that there is a shared body of information among the human species on our planet. This shared information is called collective consciousness. Its source, as with all consciousness, is in the unconscious, in this case in the collective or planetary unconscious. The unconscious is the superposition of mental realities constituting the quantum wave function. Consciousness is the classical reality. What Freud called ego function is the process through which a single mental reality arises out of the multiple possible mental realities of the unconscious quantum realm.
The One Mind Model implies that what is known to one individual is implicitly known to all others. The entire earth and all that lives participates in this knowledge. It is, literally, the source of life. Yet so little has been done to explore its nature. Quantum theory holds that the Universe has a single quantum state, and that the change in the state of any part changes the state of the whole. Indeed, many have said that there is only the whole, that the part can have no independent existence. Scientists have interpreted this in a materialistic sense. Yet matter, in as far it can be said to exist, is highly localized, and the same matter cannot possibly exist everywhere.
There are perhaps hundreds of quantum theories of reality. Many posit that there are a plethora of universes and minds, all of which exist in realities hidden from our own. This would mean that there are multiple copies of you in a kind of garden of forking paths, all of which are equal in status as living human beings. This is, on the face of it, ridiculous, since if all of these you existed, you would be multiplying your mass by the number of you, violating the principle of conservation of mass (or mass and energy).
The alternative is that there are not many minds, but only One Mind. The idea of One Mind flows from Von Neumann's original hypothesis that the change from wave to particle, which is equivalent to the creation of reality, must occur in consciousness. Von Neumann, one of the greatest geniuses of this century (he invented the computer, among many other things), reasoned that the photon is a wave that strikes the retina, leading to series of molecular changes. All of these changes are classical and mechanical. This leads to the end of the Von Neumann chain, consciousness. Many hold that the chain can end anywhere along its path. This study tests the original Von Neumann hypothesis against such alternate hypotheses.
Also, according to Von Neumann and most other quantum theorists, once the wave is collapsed to the particle, the change becomes Universal. The single mind, in knowing, creates a universal knowledge, which becomes established for all other minds. On this basis, we can imply that all knowledge exists everywhere. In quantum physics, information is such that 1 + 1 = 1. A fact known twice is a single fact, and does not change.
There have been no experimental studies that have added to the so-called bare theory of quantum mechanics. In the bare theory, we say that quantum theory applies only to the results of experiment. It has no bearing on reality. This is the first study to add to the bare theory.
The theory of consciousness implied in this model has the following elements: 1) Consciousness creates reality by bringing a single possibility into subjective reality from among many quantum or virtual probabilities. This is the same as collapse of the wave function into the particle, except that collapse occurs on the macroscopic scale of a classical state, as first proposed by Heisenberg. 2) The process of bringing a quantum state into subjective reality is a universal function that cannot be repeated or changed in the forward direction of time. 3) All observers subsequent to the first observer perceive the event as actual and do not participate in its actualization or coming into subjective reality.
The One Mind Model: Experimental Protocol for Validation
Everett first described the Many Worlds model. In this model, all of the possibilities of the quantum wave function of the Universe are independent actualities. As opposed to the Many Worlds model, the more popular Copenhagen interpretation proposed that there is only one actual world, and that observation collapses the virtual worlds of the quantum wave function into a single actuality. Based upon the work of Von Neumann, which suggested that consciousness collapses the wave function in the brain of the observer, Eugene Wigner proposed that consciousness creates the actual world. Later, Mark Germine (1991) and Henry Stapp (1993) proposed that the actual world comes into being through collapse of superimposed mental states in consciousness.
The Many Minds model is often considered to be equivalent to the Many Worlds model. In each world, there would have to be an independent mind for each separate observer, each observing its own separate world. Each of us, then, would have a plurality of minds, each occupying its own separate world. The Many Worlds model has some attractive features, prime among which is that it resolves the wave/particle paradox, with all its internal contradictions, by making the wave an assemblage of particles, each existing in its own world.
Like all other current models of quantum reality, the Many Worlds model is objective, and assumes that each of the many worlds are actual realities which can be known, thus the need for many minds, since each mind can only know one world. In the Copenhagen model there need not be such a plurality of minds, since observation of the waveform collapses it into a single actuality, which is viewed as objective. So, in the work of Wigner and Stapp, we have the curious feature of an objective reality that is created by the mind. The objectivity of the Copenhagen Model creates serious difficulties in that it proposes two mutually exclusive objective realities. The One Mind model resolves these contradictions and synthesizes the two models.
In the One Mind model the quantum waveform itself is not objectively collapsed by the act of conscious observation, and so the objective character of the wave function is symmetric in the past, present, and future. This obviates the problem of two objective realities. Collapse of the wave function is, rather, viewed as a purely subjective process that occurs in the purely subjective mind. This obviates the problems with the Wigner and Stapp models, which imply that the subjective process of consciousness somehow creates a concrete modification of material reality.
To date, no empirical studies have been performed that test the various hypotheses regarding collapse of the wave function and quantum reality. This is because none of the models have previously been developed to the empirical stage of experimental testing of a specific physical mechanism. The notion that collapse of the wave function involves collapse of macroscopic, global mental states rather than microscopic events coordinated by quantum coherence in the brain was pioneered by Henry Stapp (1991; 1993; 1994) in quantum physics and Mark Germine in mind science (1989; 1991; 1993; 1994; 1996).
The One Mind Model
According to the One Mind model the wave function is collapsed by conscious observation of a fully evolved mental state from among various possible or virtual mental states. The advantage that the One Mind model has over alternative models of a brain mechanism for collapse of the brain function, such as the Penrose-Hameroff model, is that it does not need to involve quantum coherence. The problems related to quantum coherence of the level of global brain function have prevented the latter model from reaching the empirical stage.
The One Mind model is a synthesis of theoretical quantum physics and mind science. The following are its basic tenets:
1) Undetermined events on the quantum level occur in the external world, in the sensory organs, and in the brain. All of these events contribute to the uncertainty of the global mental state, which is also undetermined prior to collapse of the wave function.
2) Global mental states are information states at the cognitive level.
3) The mental process up to the stage of quantum collapse is implicit or unconscious.
4) Collapse of the wave function is the mechanism of consciousness, and actualizes a single state from among a myriad of implicit or unconscious possible states (virtual states).
5) The stimulus-response model is a basic experimental paradigm for production of global mental states through collapse of virtual states (Germine, 1989).
6) Undetermined quantum-level external events produce undetermined sensory stimuli, and determination of external quantum events occurs through collapse of the wave function on the level of the whole brain.
7) The determination of external quantum events is a cognitive process that is reflected in the brain potential.
8) That determination is a universal process in which the individual conscious observer functions as a single observer or One Mind.
The brain potential is an empirical phenomenon on the level of experimental science, and this feature makes the One Mind Model the first empirical or falsifiable model of either collapse of the wave function or consciousness.
In the quantum theory of observation, the stimulus is uncertain until observed. Observation is the function of consciousness; therefore consciousness involves a reduction of uncertainty. It is proposed that this reduction of uncertainty is a manifestation in the reduction of uncertainty of the brain state that occurs when a single, subjective state arises from the multiple, objective states of the quantum wave function.
Neurophysiological considerations suggest that such a reduction in uncertainty involves a reduction of random depolarization of the neuronal cell membrane through hyperpolarization of the neuron across its cell membrane. Such a global hyperpolarization should be detectable as a potential waveform in the ERP record. The problem then is to link one or more such potential changes in the ERP to collapse of the quantum wave function, thereby testing the empirical formulation of the One Mind model.
The idea of collapse of the wave function at the level of consciousness received its first well-documented experimental support in the collaborative work of Schmidt (1993) and Stapp (1994). They took the well-documented phenomenon of human influence on random number generation (Jahn and Dunne, 1987), and, based on the hypothesis that this influence involved collapse of the wave function in consciousness, extended it directly to test this hypothesis. Random single-bit binary numbers were generated by radioactive decay and recorded on a computer disk without observation. Weeks later, individual subjects read these numbers, explicitly concentrating on producing one of the two numbers (0,1). The numbers under this condition were non-random in the direction of conscious bias at a chance level of 1 in 8000. These results led to rejection of the null hypothesis that determination occurs solely at the level of recording on the computer disk. Furthermore, the results entailed a violation of standard quantum theory, which dictates that the wave function is a random statistical phenomenon (Stapp, 1994). Stapp (1994) developed a theoretical physical model in which such a violation is allowed to occur by assuming that the standard model (Schroedinger equation) is a linear approximation of a non-linear process.
The Event-Related Potential (ERP)
The data relating consciousness to events in the ERP have been outlined in detail by John (1990). The ERP is a profile of the living brain's processing of a discrete stimulus. It is derived by averaging a series of EEG profiles where time zero (t = 0) is the time of the stimulus itself. The EEG is repeated enough times to generate a distinct EEG profile, which is otherwise concealed by the variable EEG background activity. The ERP records depolarization events as positive signals, which are indicated by the letter P, and hyperpolarization events as negative signals, indicated by the letter N. The positive and negative events are numbered consecutively on the ERP profile as the P1, N1, P2, N2, and P3.... These events are alternatively indicated by their latency (t), thus the P3 is also the P300, reflecting the average latency in milliseconds.
Short-latency ERPs reflect primitive processing, which is dependent on the mechanisms of conditioned response (John, 1990). Longer latency responses reflect the higher-order functions of consciousness. Decoupling of the synchronous activity across the brain, which produces the ERP results in an incorrect response, which signifies an incorrect interpretation of the stimulus with respect to conditioned learning and memory. The latencies of ERP waveshapes reflects the time-dependent process of neuronal transmission, and, for this reason, the ERP has enjoyed widespread application in diagnosis of disorders of neuronal transmission such as multiple sclerosis.
The work of Penfield (1958) and Libet (1973) has demonstrated that the conscious experience of a sensory stimulus can be blocked by electrical stimulation of the corresponding area of sensory cerebral cortex, provided that the stimulation begins within 200 msec. of the stimulus. This interval has been called the period of neuronal adequacy by Libet (1973), who has proposed that it is only after this period of time has elapsed that a stimulus can become conscious. On the basis of such experimental research, John (1990) has identified the P2, N2, and P3 potentials as events in the generation of conscious experience.
The events of the ERP occur in a highly synchronized or resonant mode. Thus is consistent with the theory that consciousness is a synchronous function across the whole brain. Thus an event originating in the brainstem, which could not be detected on a surface EEG, manifests at the same time in the cerebral cortex on the surface of the brain. The synchronous or simultaneous occurrence of ERP events or wave shapes cannot be explained on the basis of conventional neurotransmission, since regions of the brain are coupled in a way that is far beyond any effect that could occur on the basis of direct neuronal coupling. It has been proposed that such synchronization involves quantum nonlocality (Germine, 1991).
The nonlocality of the brain potential is important in that it provides a link between empirical ERP research and the theory of a nonlocal conscious process. This link provides a window into the nature of the mind and consciousness, and into the nature of collapse of the wave function. It also provides an empirical probe into the interconnection between all observers, which has, to this point, been a theoretical issue without direct empirical validation.
There are specific experimental data supporting the link between the P2, N2, and P3 potentials and conscious process (John, 1990). These data identify the P2 as the event during which conscious discrimination of a stimulus occurs in terms of figure-ground separation (John, 1990). The localized genesis of the P2 has been identified in the area of the intralaminar nuclei of the thalamic ascending reticular formation. Strokes in these nuclei cause loss of consciousness. Stimulation of the intralaminar nuclei of the thalamus in comatose patients can restore conscious awareness (Hassler, 1979).
After the stimulus is first perceived, it is evaluated through emotions that it elicits through the functions of the limbic system. The hippocampus, critical to memory, plays an important role in matching the feeling tone of the stimulus with past experience. Through the hypothalamus, autonomic responses are finely tuned to the emotional component of the mental state. The event that is associated with emotional awareness of the stimulus is represented in ERPs by the N2 waveform (John, 1990).
The cognitive experience of the stimulus involves conscious recognition of the meaning of the stimulus, and this stage of processing has been identified experimentally with the P3. One of the most robust findings in psychopathology has been that the amplitude and latency of the P3 are decreased and increased, respectively, in schizophrenia, regardless of medication state. Theses deficits in the P3 seem to be associated with an increase in the stimulus uncertainty with respect to meaning, which is an underlying cause of the thought disorder in schizophrenia. These and other data support the general hypothesis (Germine, 1991; 1993) that functional mental disorders are disorders of conscious function. The amplitude as well as the latency of the P3 varies with the amount of discrimination required to distinguish the stimulus from other stimuli (Lhermitte et al., 1985).
Event-related desynchronization (ERD) of the alpha rhythm on the EEG (Pfurtscheller et al., 1990) is associated with ERPs of all types, including major negative potentials at about 400 msec. and 450 msec. Later potentials will not be specifically elicited in this paradigm, although ERPs with latency up to 750 ms will be recorded if present.
The Brain as a Quantum Computer
For any proposed mechanism of consciousness the question of adaptive significance must be addressed. What advantage does collapse of the wave function confer for the information processing functions of the brain? How can quantum uncertainty in the genesis of brain states enhance cognitive function?
By parallel processing over a myriad of quantum possibilities, the information processing the brain reaches an efficiency which is far beyond any current or conceivable classical computer (Germine, 1996). In addition, the quantum brain, unlike classical computers, becomes both creative and self-referential, with the self-reference relating to universal consciousness. It is only in the universal sense that self-reference is possible, since there is no way to isolate a quantum system from its universal context. Self-reference is a necessary element of the One Mind model of consciousness, according to which collapse of the wave function does not involve any outside observer, but in which all observers are "inside" the same universal context, the One Mind.
The One Mind Model specifically calls for a superposition of brain states, which are later collapsed in consciousness. Each of these brain states represents an element of cognition and a possible solution to a cognitive problem. Similarly, each sequence of two or more brain states represents a complex combination of quantum states. If we have g possible states per actual or collapsed state, integrated over a sequence of n states, the number of potential combinations of states will be gn. Germine (1991; 1993) proposed that it is the resolution of such uncertainty that gives rise to the information content of consciousness. Based on the uncertainty of such combinations, mathematical equations for conscious information processing are readily derived (Germine, 1993).
Methods and Procedures
The discrimination of a stimulus entails the production of ERP events P1, N1, P2, N2, and P3. These potentials are best elicited using the "oddball" paradigm, which involves use of target stimuli in combination with more frequent non-target stimuli (Lhermitte et al., 1985). Although this paradigm has been studied in a variety of sensory modalities, the auditory ERP gives the most useful experimental results, and has been performed in a number of well-designed and reproducible paradigms. The oddball paradigm used here is a well-studied standard (Gott et al., 1991) which requires a relatively low level of discrimination as compared to those paradigms used in the study of individual differences at higher levels of discrimination, which are useful in the study of mental disorders. Since we are not concerned, at this point, with such differences, and are trying to reproducibly elicit responses rather than test their individual limits, this paradigm is most apt.
Binaural 1000 Hz (common) tones were delivered at a rate of 1.0 per 1.5 seconds with a 20 msec. rise-fall at a hearing level of 80 dB. Rare tones were set to a volume of zero in this study. These "silences" were substituted for the common tones using a random number generator in the computer at an average rate of 25%. Recordings were made from scalp electrodes at sites Cz to A1 (10-20 International System). Analysis time was 750 msec with digital determinations of electrical potential every 1 msec. The subject was asked to count the absent tone or silence and to anticipate it by counting 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2�, with the bold number being the realized anticipation of the next silence. The subject added inflection and volume mentally to the number of the realized silence. The subject was asked to try to increase the frequency of target stimuli prior to the trials.
The random number generator in the computer generated each tone independently based on a complex algorithm, which creates rare stimuli of a normal distribution according to parameters set on the instrument. The stimuli are neither predictable nor observable prior to human observation, nor are they entangled with observable events before generation or during the brief lapse between generation and delivery. The One Mind model dictates that such a random stimulus exists in a superposition of its two possible states (common or rare), and is thus of a quantum wave nature. The influence that humans can have on random number generators of all types (except those operating from lists of random numbers) is dependent on this quantum uncertainty.
In this study, the operator is able to view the rare stimulus or silence on the monitor of the computer 1 second prior to it being sounded in the headphones of the subject. By a simple coin toss, the operator decides and records one of two conditions, that of observing the monitor (pre-observed condition), and that of not observing the monitor (unobserved condition). The subject is isolated in another room and has no cues regarding which condition is being used.
An average of 26 silences was delivered for each trial, producing an average profile of the electrical potential movement at the scalp vertex (Cz-A1). Four trials were done for each session, and two sessions were done per day, with a half-hour rest between, in each of 2 days. In the Table, these two days, which were one weak apart, are designated by cumulative profiles G and C.
If the two conditions produced the same brain response, the ERP profiles would not be expected to differ. This is the null hypothesis. Differences between profiles were measured by subtracting the pre-observed profile from the unobserved profile for each of the profiles. Prior to the study, it was determined that this null hypothesis would be rejected if the two conditions differed in the cumulative profiles, as determined by correlation at a significance of p < 0.02.
Initially, data was analyzed by linear regression. Measurements of potential over 3 msec were compared in pairs, and the significance of the linear relationship between the two profiles was determined. This technique gave significance values as on the order of 10-25. These data were published to a group of scientists, and it was pointed out that, since the difference profiles had a regular sinusoidal character, auto-correlation was responsible for some part of the significance value. While it is true that the difference profiles are sinusoidal, this is, for the most part, an emergent function that is not present in the pre-observed condition. An 11 Hz or 90 msec periodicity is a major component of the difference profiles but contributed little to the pre-observed profiles.
None-the-less, a radical over-correction of the statistical analysis was done to rule out any influence of auto-correlation. Measurements of potential were made at 30 msec intervals, which were averaged with measurements made 15 msec earlier, yielding 18 discrete values for each profile ranging from 30 to 540 msec, which were then compared in pairs of profiles using linear regression. The profile from 540 to 750 msec was not included because the characteristic inversion of the unobserved profile with respect the observed profile was not usually seen in this range. This was another over-correction, since the contribution of the pre-observed profiles contributed to the regular sinusoidal pattern of the difference profiles (Figure) and to the correlation of the difference profiles.
Table: Correlation matrix for significance levels (p values) of comparisons between difference profiles described in text. Upper number is significance. Lower number is percent data shared by two profiles being correlated. Bold number is overall significance of comparison between the two main sets of data and is the controlling correlation for rejection of the null hypothesis at p < 0.02. Number of data sets or profiles (n) is subject to statistical variability. Each data set (n = 1) is the difference between profiles of 1 unobserved and 1 pre-observed stimulus condition.
The correlation matrix (Table) shows the internal structure of the aggregate data. As expected for a non-spurious correlation, correlation of elements of the C set of trials with the G set increases as the number of profiles are increased and as profiles are combined. Significance is lowest in the sub-sets of D (E and F), and finally reaches significance when the grand average (C) is used in the comparison.
The two subsets of D (E and F) are themselves significantly correlated, and D correlates at very high significance with each of them. Factor A, derived mostly from D, correlates at high significance with group G, despite the fact the G only contributes 10% to the factor. Other combined data correlate at much higher significance than expected if they were combined with random data. All of this shows the correlation of the difference profiles runs throughout the aggregate data.
Figure 1: Difference potential in the absent auditory stimulus condition (first study, average of sixteen of sixteen trials). Graph shows data for previously observed absent auditory stimulus minus previously unobserved auditory stimulus. Vertical axis: microvolts potential difference. Horizontal axis: milliseconds latency, stimulus time is at t = 0.
Figure 3: Difference potential in the rare tone auditory stimulus condition (second study, average of last four of eight trials). Graph shows data for previously unobserved auditory stimulus minus previously observed auditory stimulus. Vertical axis: microvolts potential difference. Horizontal axis: milliseconds latency, stimulus time is at t = 0.
The study is designed to produce high-resolution ERP profiles that can be compared statistically at a very high level of certainty and statistical power. Quantum observation or collapse of the wave function is isolated as a variable for the first time in this experimental study by measuring its effect on the ERP. Assuming that observation is a cognitive function, the manifestation of the collapse of the wave function in the form of observation potentials is expected to occur, for reasons outlined previously. Negative results in this study would lead to acceptance of the null hypothesis that first observation of quantum events by one subject has no manifestation on the ERP of a second subject, and would falsify the One Mind Model. Positive results validate the One Mind Model as well as the general model of collapse of the wavefunction.
It is impossible to establish the validity of any scientific hypothesis unless it can be falsified. Experimentally, validation lies in the absence of falsification, and the alternative to the null hypothesis is established by rejection of the null hypothesis. Post-facto hypotheses do not have empirical validity; it is prediction rather than retrodiction that is the basis for empirical science. In this sense, the One Mind model is the first empirical model of either collapse of the wave function or consciousness, and this would be the first experimental study capable of falsifying such a model. Further work must be done in this promising area of research.
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