DOI: 10.14704/nq.2011.9.3.452

The Discovery of Quantum Tunneling in Biological Electron Transfer and the Possibility of a Redox-like Mechanism of the Mind: A Retrospective

Alan S. Haas


This paper provides a brief personal recount of how an electromagnetic theory of psychology was born out of working in the lab of pioneers in biophysics. The story represents an example of how a useful macroscopically applicable cognitive theory may be derived from immersion in the study of microscopic molecular quantum principles. The example of the discovery and elucidation of quantum mechanical features of biological electron transfer in energy conversion by the author’s mentors are discussed. It is suggested that the electrochemically charged reactions of oxidation reduction (redox) in enzymes may be conceptually and physically analogous to processes in the brain. However, there are also important lessons learned and caveats about attempting to over apply quantum effects that serve other purposes and are not likely to evolve into all components of a biological system. For example, a simple model of electron transfer rates that closely approximates a general biochemical law has proven to be a more useful and realistic metric than those that seek to find special quantum pathways in every part of the structure of the protein. Similarly, the author believes that an electromagnetic theory of consciousness based on sums of cellular electrochemical effects located primarily within the brain and body will ultimately prevail. Much work remains to show precisely how this is the case, but an initial explanation using redox principles is suggested.


redox; quantum tunneling; electron transfer; mind; brain

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