What follows is a remarkable example of what I consider real scientific exploration assisted by Anthropic’s Claude 2 AI. This interface allows uploading documents for feedback in the conversation. I uploaded a number of recent papers on electromagnetic field dynamics in relation to consciousness and memory and asked Claude 2 to help me flesh out a more specific speculative EM field theory of memory (something I’ve been thinking about for the last couple of years).
The microtuble discussion in relation to this EM field theory of memory was inspired by my attendance last weekend at the “Neuroscience needs a revolution to understand consciousness” conference in Encinitas, California. I spoke on “Fields or firings? Comparing the ‘spike code’ and the ‘EEG code.’
A number of speakers discussed recent research on microtubules and the rather complex details of how these key elements of each cell (and neurons of course) function. Given their tubulin dimer-based composition, Hameroff, Penrose and various others have speculated for years about a possible role for MTs in consciousness.
As far as I know, there is no published work suggesting an EM field theory of memory that loops in MTs as a key part of that memory system.
Anyway, here is the dialogue in full, showing also the papers that I uploaded. My questions are in italics and the rest is Claude 2.
PDF: Cantero et al 2018 Bundles of Brain Microtubules Generate Electrical Oscillations.pdf 3.54 MB
PDF: Gutierrez et al. 2020 Electrical Oscillations of Brain Microtubules.pdf 626.11 KB
PDF: Craddock et al. 2014 Keeping_time_could_quantum_beating_in_mi.pdf 2.22 MB
PDF: Pinotsis and Miller 2023 In vivo ephaptic coupling allows memory network formation .pdf 1.54 MB
PDF: Pinotsis-et-al 2023 Cytoelectric-Coupling-2023.pdf 654.12 KB
Tam: I’d like to flesh out an electromagnetic field theory of memory with you. I’m uploading some documents that will form part of the basis for our discussion. In particular I’d like your assistance, drawing upon the uploaded documents and everything else you’ve learned about neuroscience, to speculate about the possible role of microtubules in an EM field theory of memory. My working hypothesis is that various spatiotemporal scales of EM field dynamics are not only patterns of qualia based on sensory perception but that these patterns are somehow encoded in memory, both short-term and long-term, and that later retrieval of these memories involves re-creating the engrammatic large-scale EM field patterns throughout the brain. The difficulty I’m exploring is where specifically these engrammatic memory traces are stored. I’m speculating that they may be stored in networks of neurons in microtubular tubulin-based information patterns, which have been found in recent works to sometimes resonate a 40 Hz frequency that is in the gamma band of normal human brain function. So my question for you is to please flesh out this idea of microtubular-based memory storage and retrieval, based on the science I’ve uploaded and your own knowledge.
Based on the research articles you provided, here is an attempt to flesh out the idea that microtubules may play a role in storing and retrieving memory via electromagnetic field patterns:
The key points from the research:
- Microtubules have been shown to generate electrical oscillations and behave like nano-scale electronic circuits that can potentially propagate signals along axons (Cantero et al., Gutierrez et al.).
- The structured arrangement of aromatic amino acids (tryptophan, tyrosine) in tubulin subunits allows for electron mobility and excitation energy transfer, providing a potential mechanism for quantum coherence and resonant energy transfer along microtubule networks (Craddock et al., Hameroff).
- Microtubules interconnect via microtubule-associated proteins to form extensive networks in neurons. Their geometry and parallel, polarized orientation in axons and dendrites makes them well-suited for computational roles and information processing (Craddock et al., Priel et al.).
- Disruption of microtubules impairs synaptic plasticity and memory formation, suggesting they normally play a role in these processes (Craddock et al.).
- Microtubule bundles can exhibit coherent 40Hz oscillations in the gamma frequency range associated with consciousness (Hameroff).
Possible role in electromagnetic theory of memory:
- The brain’s endogenous electromagnetic field patterns encoding memories may involve microtubules as follows:
- During memory encoding, specific spatiotemporal patterns of the EM field could induce conformational changes in tubulin subunits via forces on the mobile electrons of aromatic amino acids. This alters microtubule lattice structure.
- The new microtubule conformations encode information about the memory to be stored, represented by resonance frequencies along the microtubule network.
- This stored information is propagated along microtubule networks to distribute and reinforce the memory trace.
- Memory retrieval involves reactivation of the specific microtubule resonance patterns through reconstruction of the EM field pattern that originally induced the tubulin conformation changes.
- Quantum coherence between tubulin aromatic groups allows for rapid, non-dissipative transfer of information along microtubules to recreate the original large-scale EM field patterns linking distributed memory components.
In summary, the structured nature of microtubule networks makes them a candidate substrate for EM field-based memory storage, potentially via tubulin conformational states and quantum energy transfer effects. The 40Hz gamma resonance found in microtubules could reflect information encoding. More research is needed to provide direct evidence for these speculative mechanisms. I’m happy to further discuss and brainstorm this interesting hypothesis. Please let me know if you would like me to expand on any part of this outline.
Tam: This is excellent, thanks. Please delve a little deeper on the possible mechanisms by which these memory traces could be encoded in microtubular conformations, and also how they could then be retrieved and experienced as memories.
Thanks, I’m happy to speculate further on potential mechanisms for memory encoding and retrieval via microtubule conformational states:
Encoding memory traces in microtubules:
- During learning, specific temporal patterns of electric fields in different brain regions could induce forces on tubulin subunits, causing conformational changes in microtubule structure.
- For example, twisted or curved microtubule conformations could encode different memories, representing distinct resonance frequencies.
- Post-translational modifications of tubulin like phosphorylation could also encode information by altering charge distribution and resonance.
- Microtubule-associated proteins linking microtubules could propagate and reinforce these conformational changes throughout neuronal microtubule networks.
- Synaptic plasticity mechanisms would strengthen microtubule conformation changes in activated neurons.
- Coherent oscillations along interconnected microtubules could help consolidate the memory trace.
Retrieving memories from microtubule conformations:
- Later activation of microtubule networks could regenerate the original electromagnetic field pattern that induced the stored tubulin conformations.
- For example, quantum coherence between aromatic amino acids could allow rapid recreation of the EM field pattern along microtubule networks.
- This EM field pattern would then induce the stored tubulin conformations to re-emerge.
- The reactivated microtubule conformations would reconstruct the oscillatory frequencies encoding the original memory.
- Resonance along microtubule networks propagates the EM field pattern to other regions to reactivate the distributed memory trace.
- Ultimately this reconstructs the subjective experience of the original memory by recreating the specific EM field dynamics that were present during encoding.
- Recall may involve reversibly shifting tubulin conformations back to the learned state.
There are many unknowns, but I hope these ideas help explain how microtubular networks could theoretically encode memory traces in tubulin conformations induced by EM fields, and later regenerate those same field patterns for recall. Please let me know if you would like me to expand or clarify any part of this.
Tam: Wonderful these are very helpful suggestions. Now please speculate on the role of tau MAPs as an analog to myelination of nerve cells, which function is to dramatically speed up conductivity in neurons, in terms of tau MAPs often wrapping fully around microtubules, as discovered in recent research by the McKenney labs (see their recent paper here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10312695/).
Thank you for providing that additional paper on the role of tau proteins in microtubule regulation. Based on the research showing tau proteins can form helical wrappings around microtubules, here is some speculation on how this could factor into the hypothetical electromagnetic theory of memory storage in microtubules:
- The helical tau wrappings could act analogously to the myelin sheaths around axons, significantly increasing the speed and efficiency of signal conduction along microtubules.
- This would allow much faster propagation of electromagnetic signals and quantum energy transfer among microtubules during memory encoding and retrieval.
- The helical tau conformation may help “tune” the resonant frequencies of microtubules by interacting with aromatic residues or modifying the overall lattice structure.
- Wrapped microtubules interconnected by tau proteins could enhance coherent oscillations across microtubule networks, stabilizing memory traces.
- Hyperphosphorylation of tau in disease states could disrupt normal tau wrapping, impairing conductive properties of microtubules and disrupting memory mechanisms.
- Regulated tau unwrapping from microtubules could provide a mechanism for reversibly transitioning between different conformational memory states.
- The tau helical conformations themselves may also help encode information through their distinct structural arrangements around the microtubule.
In summary, the helical tau wrappings could significantly enhance the conductivity and oscillatory properties of microtubule networks implicated in EM field-based memory storage and retrieval. The tau conformations may add another layer of tunable information encoding as well. More research on tau-microtubule dynamics will be needed to determine if these speculative mechanisms reflect reality. Please let me know if you would like me to expand on any part of this idea.
Tam: Thank you. Other than tau, are there additional important MAPs that may play significant roles in conduction, memory storage and/or retrieval?
Yes, there are several other microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) that could potentially contribute to conduction, memory storage, and retrieval mechanisms in microtubule networks:
- MAP2 — Abundant in dendrites, helps crosslink microtubules. Phosphorylation state modifies microtubule spacing and could encode information.
- MAP1A/MAP1B — Helps determine microtubule spacing and bundling. Palmitoylation state could encode memories. May regulate synaptic plasticity.
- Doublecortin — Crucial for stabilizing microtubules during neuron development. Phosphorylation regulates its detachment from microtubules.
- EB Proteins — Regulate microtubule polymerization and stability. Phosphorylation detaches them from microtubule plus ends.
- Kinesin/Dynein — Motor proteins that transport cargo along microtubules. Their activity could propagate signals.
- CRMPs — Link microtubule regulation to synaptic development/plasticity. Phosphorylation modifies activity.
- APC — Regulates microtubule assembly. Phosphorylation by GSK3β inhibits its microtubule binding.
- SPECC1L — Associates with synaptic microtubules. Acetylation state affects its association.
In general, many MAPs undergo post-translational modifications that alter their microtubule binding activity and could encode information. Their crosslinking and spacing activities could modulate conductivity. And their roles in synaptic plasticity suggest involvement in memory mechanisms. More research is needed to determine if and how these various MAPs contribute to hypothesized microtubule-based memory storage and retrieval.
Tam: Thank you.