Quantum processes in neurophotonics and the origin of the brain’s spatiotemporal hierarchy

Travis J.A. Craddock, Philip Kurian, Jack A. Tuszynski, Stuart R. Hameroff

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


We review the brain’s complex dynamical organization necessary for cognition and consciousness and conclude that, rather than a linear computer of neuronal synapses, the brain seems to function more as a nonlinear spatiotemporal hierarchy of interacting, dynamically layered systems. The brain’s hierarchy apparently spans multiple layers covering at least 12 orders of magnitude reaching from large (nearly brain-wide, ~10 cm), relatively slow (100 Hertz, “Hz”) processes based on neuronal membranes and synaptic network activities (e.g., electroencephalography, “EEG”), downward and inward to increasingly smaller and faster molecular scales inside neurons including kilohertz (103 Hz), megahertz (106 Hz), gigahertz (109 Hz), and terahertz (1012 Hz) dynamics of cytoskeletal filaments and their constituents at micrometer, nanometer and subnanometer size scales. These faster, smaller processes delve into biomolecular quantum states whose properties are suggested to offer solutions to questions related to cognition and consciousness, but also in the traditional view considered unlikely in the “warm, wet, and noisy” biological brain milieu. Here we contend that functional neurological quantum states-nontrivial in their manifestation at mesoscopic and macroscopic scales and possibly useful for signaling and information processing-can originate in either (1) photoexcited transition-state dipoles of aromatic networks, driven by endogenous photon emissions generated during aerobic processes, or (2) collective electronic behaviors due to van der Waals interactions in such aromatic networks, which can result in a hierarchical cascade of coherent oscillations spanning 12 or more orders of magnitude. Cognitive processing and consciousness may occur in this cascade due to nonlinear amplification of resonances among coherent brain states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeurophotonics and Biomedical Spectroscopy
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9780323480673
ISBN (Print)9780323480680
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Coherent signaling
  • Neurophotonics
  • Nonlinear complexity
  • Photobiomodulation
  • Quantum biology
  • Quantum brain
  • Quantum optics
  • Subneural dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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