The "conscious pilot"-dendritic synchrony moves through the brain to mediate consciousness

Stuart Hameroff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Cognitive brain functions including sensory processing and control of behavior are understood as "neurocomputation" in axonal-dendritic synaptic networks of "integrate-and-fire" neurons. Cognitive neurocomputation with consciousness is accompanied by 30- to 90-Hz gamma synchrony electroencephalography (EEG), and non-conscious neurocomputation is not. Gamma synchrony EEG derives largely from neuronal groups linked by dendritic-dendritic gap junctions, forming transient syncytia ("dendritic webs") in input/integration layers oriented sideways to axonal-dendritic neurocomputational flow. As gap junctions open and close, a gamma-synchronized dendritic web can rapidly change topology and move through the brain as a spatiotemporal envelope performing collective integration and volitional choices correlating with consciousness. The "conscious pilot" is a metaphorical description for a mobile gamma-synchronized dendritic web as vehicle for a conscious agent/pilot which experiences and assumes control of otherwise non-conscious auto-pilot neurocomputation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-93
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Biological Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Action potentials
  • Brain
  • Cognition
  • Computer worm
  • Connexin
  • Consciousness
  • Dendrites
  • EEG
  • Electroencephalography
  • Gamma synchrony
  • Gap junctions
  • Integrate and fire
  • Integration
  • NCC
  • Neural correlate of consciousness
  • Neural networks
  • Neuron
  • Spikes
  • Volition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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