A quantum entity, like a photon or electron, is only observed when something not itself, like a screen, interacts with it. Until then, quantum mechanics says it is a spreading wave that doesn’t observe itself or anything else. Only when another quantum entity wave overlaps with it, can both waves collapse to restart at a point, in a physical event. In quantum theory, this is an observation, so a physical event is when quantum entities observe each other. It also says the event location is chosen randomly from the quantum distribution, not based on prior physical events. According to quantum theory, all physical events involve both observation and free choice.
Quantum theory then adds that when quantum entities restart in a physical event, something remarkable occurs: they entangle into a single quantum system that spreads from the event point. Hence, when photons entangle and spread, their ensemble instantly knows if either is involved in another physical event, even if they are too far apart to physically exchange data (QR3.8.5). By the last paragraph, when entangled entities observe in a physical event, they both participate in the observation regardless of distance, even if they then disentangle. This isn’t information exchange but it has the same effect, that distant participants obtain the same physical information.
It follows that when synchrony entangles nerves into an ensemble that collapses to observe a point in the brain’s electromagnetic field, they all get this information. This lets distant brain areas exchange data when they entangle to observe. In simple terms, distant nerve areas can share data by forming a quantum entity that observes and chooses. Applying Penrose’s logic to nerves, if tubulins can synchronize receptor molecules to observe as one, brains can synchronize nerves to do the same. A quantum effect could therefore underlie the observer we call “I”.
It isn’t proposed that all brain nerves synchronize, but that local nerves entangle to solve local problems, allowing a cascade from microcolumns to macrocolumns and so on, step-by-step. Nor do all nerves need to synchronize perfectly, as only some need to do so to achieve the effect. If nerves that wire together fire together, then nerves that fire together can observe together. Consciousness then arises when nerve synchronies cascade into a global observer.
When we watch a movie, sight and sound become one experience because entangled visual and auditory nerves make one observation. Bottom-up sensory analysis could process vision or sound alternatively but we observe both at once and can attend either. How attention occurs isn’t known but where an entanglement collapses alters the observation. An electromagnetic field is stronger closer to its source, so attending the sound of a movie may be choosing a collapse close to the hearing area. Equally I could attend to a sense, thought, or feeling by choosing a collapse closer to that brain function. The brain has no wiring switch to do what attention does, so this theory explains what others can’t.
If a single neuron opens a small observation window on physical reality, then many neurons entangled open a bigger window. It seems that the brain solved the binding problem by forming layer upon layer of neural synchronies to enable a global observation, hence:
a. Consciousness takes time. A global neural synchrony takes time to build up.
b. Consciousness scales. Synchrony enables consciousness at multiple scales of the brain.
c. Consciousness cascades. Small-scale synchronies lead to large-scale synchronies.
The following sections give more details.