Friedrich Hans Beck (16 February 1927 – 20 December 2008) was a German physicist. His research interests were focused on superconductivity, nuclear and elementary particle physics, relativistic quantum field theory, and late in his life, biophysics and theory of consciousness. In 1991 Friedrich Beck met sir John Carew Eccles, a 1963 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, during a summer school in Northern Italy organized by a German foundation for the promotion of outstanding students. In collaboration they developed a quantum mechanical model of exocytosis and neurotransmitter release at synapses in the human cerebral cortex. The model endorses interactionist dualism and postulates that human consciousness could affect the functioning of synapses in the brain through quantum tunneling of electrons between the lipid bilayers of the synaptic vesicle and the presynaptic membrane. The tunneling of electrons triggers the process of exocytosis and thus initiates the transmission of information from the presynaptic neuron towards the postsynaptic neuron.
In the struggle about the role of monism and dualism as basic concepts of the mind-brain relation the indeterminacy of quantum events has led an increasing number of authors to postulate quantum brain dynamics as the key towards a scientific understanding of consciousness. In most cases some specific form of macroscopic quantum states in the brain are invoked without giving details for their occurrence or persistence. This raises immediately the question how such states could survive thermal fluctuations in the hot and wet brain environment. In this paper we present a model for a quantum mechanical trigger which regulates synaptic exocytosis, the regulator for ordered brain activity. The model is based on a quantum mechanical tunnelling process which is stable against thermal fluctuations and consistent with the physiological conditions of the synaptic membrane.
synaptic exocytosis, quantum trigger model, electron transfer in synaptic membranes