Consciousness in the universe an updated review of the "Orch OR" theory

Stuart R. Hameroff, Roger Penrose

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

12 Scopus citations


The nature of consciousness, the mechanism by which it occurs in the brain, and its ultimate place in the universe are unknown. We proposed in the mid 1990's that consciousness depends on biologically "orchestrated" coherent quantum processes in collections of microtubules within brain neurons, that these quantum processes correlate with, and regulate, neuronal synaptic and membrane activity, and that the continuous Schrödinger evolution of each such process terminates in accordance with the specific Diósi-Penrose (DP) scheme of " objective reduction" ("OR") of the quantum state. This orchestrated OR activity ("Orch OR") is taken to result in moments of conscious awareness and/or choice. The DP form of OR is related to the fundamentals of quantum mechanics and space-time geometry, so Orch OR suggests that there is a connection between the brain's biomolecular processes and the basic structure of the universe. Here we review Orch OR in light of criticisms and developments in quantum biology, neuroscience, physics and cosmology. We also introduce novel suggestions of (1) beat frequencies of faster Orch OR microtubule dynamics (e.g. megahertz) as a possible source of the observed electroencephalographic (" EEG") correlates of consciousness and (2) that OR played a key role in life's evolution. We conclude that consciousness plays an intrinsic role in the universe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBiophysics of Consciousness
Subtitle of host publicationA Foundational Approach
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing Co. Pte Ltd
Number of pages83
ISBN (Electronic)9789814644266
ISBN (Print)9789814644259
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Anesthesia
  • Consciousness
  • Eeg
  • Electro-encephalography
  • Evolution
  • Free will
  • General relativity
  • Measurement problem
  • Memory
  • Microtubule
  • Neuron
  • Objective reduction
  • Or
  • Orch or
  • Pi resonance
  • Qualia
  • Quantum
  • Quantum computing
  • Space-time geometry
  • Tubulin
  • Universe
  • Wavefunction
  • anthropic principle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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