Quantum Paradigms of Psychopathology

You can read "Focus: Quantum Paradigms of Psychopathology", Table of Content and Articles

A new window into the nature of mental illness may have opened with the recent publication of an on-line symposium entitled "Quantum Paradigms of Psychopathology" (QPP), which appeared in March of this year as a special issue of the NeuroQuantology. QPP’s novel approach seeks a grounding of psychiatric disease in the counter-intuitive but physically foundational phenomena of the quantum micro-world within the brain.

The relevance of physics on that small scale to sentient processes in the normal brain has been an ongoing subject of study since the closing decades of the last century. Pioneers like the physicists Hiroomi Umezawa and Kunio Yasue, mathematicians like Roger Penrose, and biomedical investigators like Stuart Hameroff, Gordon Globus, and Gustav Bernroider have plumbed the depths of subatomic structure and its macroscopic amplifications in search of substrates for quantum computation and other capabilities that may match attributes of the human psyche better than models advocated by conventional cognitive neuroscience.

One especially powerful set of insights into the quantum brain has been contributed by Giuseppe Vitiello, Professor of Physics at the University of Salerno. His influential book, My Double Unveiled, published by John Benjamins in 2001, has helped to weld the disparate disciplines of quantum field theory, thermodynamics, and neurophysiology into a so-called “dissipative quantum theory” of the conscious brain. The crux of his perspective is the hidden, virtual existence of a shadow brain operating in a time-reversed mode to stabilize the quantum coherence of neural memory structures.

The March 2010 on-line QPP symposium is the culmination of a related project that began in June 2008. At that time Donald Mender, a psychiatrist affiliated with Yale University, conducted an informal poll of participants in Quantum Mind, a series of conferences exploring the ideas introduced by Profs. Hameroff, Yasue, Vitiello, and their colleagues. Dr. Mender asked whether there exists among researchers any interest in the prospect of applying insights from Quantum Mind to aberrant processes underlying schizophrenia, bipolar illness, and other forms of psychopathology. The answer was a robust “yes.”

Hence, an organizing committee for a QPP initiative was formed later in 2008 under Dr. Mender's leadership. This body was soon reconstituted as the QPP Scientific Program Committee, chaired by Prof. Globus and including Prof. Bernroider as Co-Chair for the Basic Sciences. Dr. Mender served as the QPP Scientific Program Committee’s third member and corresponding secretary. QPP also gathered together a distinguished Advisory Board, which included Massimo Pregnolato, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Pavia, as well as Lucio Tonello, Professor of Biomathematical Sciences at the L. U. de S. University in Switzerland.

Members of the QPP Scientific Program Committee, Advisory Board, and general email list soon received a call for research articles aimed at extending the application of quantum neuroscience toward a deeper understanding of psychopathology. Dr. Sultan Tarlaci, founder and editor-in-chief of NeuroQuantology and a QPP Advisory Board member, offered to publish works selected from these papers in his journal.

Nine fertile texts appeared in the resulting symposium. In his lead target article, Prof. Globus propounded a highly original concept of schizophrenia linked to the “tuning” of quantum vibrations suffusing the brain. Prof. Nancy Woolf, along with co-authors including Prof. Jack Tuszynski, offered credible links between psychopathology and quantum-computational dysfunction within the skeletal proteins giving shape to brain cells. Prof. Paavo Pylkkanen related the physical substrates of mental illness to quantum “pilot waves.” Dr. Mender proposed ways of comprehending the neurophysiology of disordered thinking and emotion in terms of quantum analogies to the freezing and melting of ordinary matter. Five commentators on these four target papers each introduced additional fresh quantum perspectives on the biophysical origins of psychopathology.
Plans are under way for expansion of QPP’s activies both on line and at live symposia. Dr. Mender will continue to edit a section dedicated to QPP in each future issue of the NeuroQuantology Journal. Prof. Pregnolato’s recent assumption of the QPP Chair affords contributors yet another forum for internet-based discourse through his Quantumbionet web site (URL www.quantumbionet.org). Face-to-face conferences will likely occur in years to come either through umbrella networks like Quantum Mind or as free standing meetings. The next few decades promise progress in this new area of scientific exploration.

You can read "Focus: Quantum Paradigms of Psychopathology", Table of Content and Articles

Special Issue Editor
Donald Mender
Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry,
Yale University School of Medicine, USA

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