​Effects of Anesthetic Molecules on Quantum Vibrations in Microtubules – Experimental Testing of the Orch OR Theory of Consciousness
TWCF Number
Project Duration
January 1 / 2021
- December 31 / 2021
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
North America
Amount Awarded
Grant DOI*

* A Grant DOI (digital object identifier) is a unique, open, global, persistent and machine-actionable identifier for a grant.

Jack Tuszynski
Institution The Governors of the University of Alberta

Despite an abundance of theories, the nature of consciousness and the physical processes it involves remain a mystery. This project aims to advance our understanding of consciousness through rigorous and potentially groundbreaking experiments.

In the 1990s, Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff developed the Orch OR (orchestrated objective reduction) theory of consciousness. Orch OR posits that conscious processes are regulated by microtubules—microscopic structures responsible for various kinds of movements in eukaryotic cells—inside brain neurons.

In this project, Jack Tuszynski and Hameroff will put Orch OR to the test in two sets of novel experiments. Orch OR predicts that anesthetics suppress quantum processes in microtubules. The team will attempt to detect quantum processes in microtubules, and if successful, test their sensitivity to anesthetics.

The first set of experiments aims to detect delocalized, laser-induced quantum states and to examine how anesthetics affect them. The second set of experiments will test for delayed luminescence (DL) in microtubules and determine the decoherence times of electronic excitations.

The experiment protocol and predictions are pre-registered in the Open Science Framework, and can be accessed here: https://osf.io/zqnjd/

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Related Blog Post
Is Consciousness a Quantum Phenomenon? Recent Findings Lend Some Support to Orch OR Theory
Results of recent experiments show that quantum states can be formed in microtubules, and that anesthetic molecules shorten the lifetimes of these quantum states.

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