Summary: The study suggests that quantitative processes are part of the brain’s cognitive and conscious functions.
Scientists from Trinity College Dublin believe our brains can use quantum computation after adapting an idea developed to demonstrate the existence of quantum gravity to explore the human brain and its workings.
The measured brain function was also associated with short-term memory performance and conscious awareness, suggesting that quantitative processes are also part of cognitive and conscious brain functions.
If the team’s findings can be confirmed – which likely require advanced multidisciplinary approaches – they will advance our general understanding of how the brain functions and possibly how it can be preserved or even healed. They may also help find innovative technologies and build more advanced quantum computers.
Dr. Christian Kerskens, Principal Physicist at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN), is the co-author of the research article just published in Journal of Physics Communications.
“We adapted an idea, developed for experiments to prove the existence of quantum gravity, that takes known quantum systems, which interact with an unknown system. If known systems are entangled, then the unknown must also be a quantum system. It overcomes difficulties in finding measuring devices For something we don’t know about.
“For our experiments, we used proton coils from ‘brain water’ as a known system. ‘brain water’ naturally accumulates as fluid in our brains and the proton spin can be measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Next, using a specific MRI design to look for Intertwined coils, we found MRI signals that resembled heart-stimulated potentials, a form of EEG. EEG machines measure electrical currents in the brain, which some people may learn from personal experience or simply from watching hospital dramas on TV”.
Electrophysiological potentials such as the stimulated heart-pulse potentials usually cannot be detected using MRI and the scientists believe they could only observe them because the nuclear proton rotation in the brain was entangled.
Dr. Kerskens added:
“If entanglement is the only possible explanation here, it means that brain processes must interact with nuclear spins, leading to entanglement between nuclear spins. As a result, we can conclude that these brain functions must be quantum.”
“Since these brain functions have also been linked to short-term memory performance and conscious awareness, it is possible that these quantum processes are an important part of cognitive and conscious brain functions.
Quantum brain processes could explain why we can still outperform supercomputers when it comes to unexpected circumstances, decision making, or learning something new. Our experiments, conducted only 50 meters from the auditorium, where Schrödinger presented his famous ideas about life, may shed light on the mysteries of biology, and on consciousness that is difficult to understand scientifically.”
Financing: This research was supported by Science Foundation Ireland and TCIN.
About this Neuroscience Research News
author: Thomas Dean
Contact: Thomas Dean – TCD
picture: The image is in the public domain
original search: open access.
“Experimental indicators of non-classical brain functionWritten by Christian Kerskens et al. Physics Communication Journal
Experimental indicators of non-classical brain function
Recent proposals in quantum gravity have suggested that unknown systems can mediate entanglement between two known quantum systems, if the medium itself is non-classical. This approach may be applicable to the brain, where conjectures about quantum processes in consciousness and cognition have a long history.
Proton cycles made up of large amounts of water, which are likely to interfere with any function of the brain, can function as well-known quantum systems. In the case of an unknown medium, multiple quantum coherence (MQC)-based NMR methods can act as an entanglement witness.
However, there are doubts that current NMR signals can contain quantum correlations in general, and specifically in the brain environment.
Here, we used a zero-quantum coherence (ZQC)-based witness protocol in which we downplayed classical signals to circumvent the NMR detection limits of quantum correlation.
For repeated short periods, we found evoked signals in most parts of the brain, where the temporal profile is similar to cardiac excitatory potentials (HEPs). We found that these signals were unrelated to any conventional NMR contrast. Similar to HEPs, evoked signaling relied on conscious perception.
Signals related to consciousness or electrophysiology are unknown in NMR. Remarkably, these signals appear only if the local properties of the magnetization are reduced.
Our findings suggest that we may have seen a synapse mediated by brain functions associated with consciousness.
These brain functions must then operate in a non-classical manner, which means consciousness is not classical.