>Is there something there that is beyond what could be analysed and predicted in terms of >electrical and chemical reactions, once we understand them?
Last I'd read, yes. There is possibly something beyond the electro-chemical stuff. But it doesn't make much sense.
Few years back, some fella, big lad in the neuroscience world, was postulating that the physical substrate of consciousness may lie in the sub-molecular strangeness of the 'quantuum foam', which if I remember correctly, is where exotic, barely describable objects like superstrings are to be found. I got a bit lost at that point, and couldn't fill in all the gaps in the bits between superstrings and probability, but it seemed to have something to do with collapsing wavefronts, event horizons and an assumption that time would only move in one direction.
The implication seemed to be that the brain was no more than a subset of group of complex arrangements of the possible positions of lots and lots of subatomic particles. As such it filters out the possible events that are connected by linear causality, from the great, infinite mush of possible events (each event being a particular mega-eigenstate of all the bits that make up the entire physical universe, like the ultimate snapshot of 'the-way-things-really-are').
I think it sorta hinges on linear causality, hence the need for one-way time. With the final conclusion being that consciousness, and all subjective experience, is an artefact of memory interacting with stimulus. The model doesn't preclude the existence of other forms/levels of consciousness, and implies that consciousness ,as a concept, is inherent in the mere possibility of anything existing, even in just the existence of possibility itself. Which is re-assuring.
Gawds. Just thinking about that stuff for a minute or thirty makes me remember why I gave up doing Science. That and the mindless tedium. All that was about 6yrs ago, I've no idea what the score is these days. Bet you wished you'd never asked now eh? ;)