Quantum Theories Of The Mind
As these kinds of questions still loom large and unanswered, several high-profile scientists have come to speculate if quantum effects might be necessary to explain what is going on in the brain.
As has been clear since the 1930s, quantum theory is non-local. In entangled quantum systems, part of the information lives in the entanglement itself, which is not stored locally. As consciousness appears to us as a unified, non-local field it is hard for us to imagine it coming from billions of individual neurons, which makes it tempting to draw the conclusion that consciousness could arise from or be connected to quantum effects. But keep in mind that this is as of yet merely a metaphorical statement: it does in no way necessitate that the binding problem can only be explained by the non-locality of quantum theory.
Beck and Eccles propose that consciousness might influence exocytosis, the process by which cells transport molecules like neurotransmitters across cell membranes, through conscious intentions. Further work has built on their theory recently, proposing which protein mechanism might be involved.
Another famous controversial example is Penroses and Hammeroffs Orch OR theory, which postulates how quantum states are reduced within the neurons by so-called microtubules. The theory is rather complex and would go beyond the scope of this article . It has been much debated and probably doesnt hold, but is nevertheless an interesting impulse.
Physicists Explain How The Brain Might Connect To The Quantum Realm
Down the rabbit hole …
One of the most important open questions in science is how our consciousness is established. In the 1990s, long before winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his prediction of black holes, physicist Roger Penrose teamed up with anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff to propose an ambitious answer.
They claimed that the brainâs neuronal system forms an intricate network and that the consciousness this produces should obey the rules of quantum mechanics â the theory that determines how tiny particles like electrons move around. This, they argue, could explain the mysterious complexity of human consciousness.
Penrose and Hameroff were met with incredulity. Quantum mechanical laws are usually only found to apply at very low temperatures. Quantum computers, for example, currently operate at around -272Â°C. At higher temperatures, classical mechanics takes over.
Since our body works at room temperature, you would expect it to be governed by the classical laws of physics. For this reason, the quantum consciousness theory has been dismissed outright by many scientists â though others are persuaded supporters.
Instead of entering into this debate, I decided to join forces with colleagues from China, led by Professor Xian-Min Jin at Shanghai Jiaotong University, to test some of the principles underpinning the quantum theory of consciousness.
Brains and fractals
Do Hair And Fingernails Grow After Death
Nope. This is a myth, but one that does have a biological origin.
The reason hair and fingernails don’t grow after death is because new cells can’t be produced. Glucose fuels cell division, and cells require oxygen to break down glucose into cellular energy. Death puts an end to the body’s ability to intake either one.
It also ends the intaking of water, leading to dehydration. As a corpse’s skin desiccates, it pulls away from the fingernails and retracts around the face . Anyone unlucky enough to exhume a corpse could easily mistake these changes as signs of growth.
Interestingly, postmortem hair and fingernail growth provoked lore about vampires and other creatures of the night. When our ancestors dug up fresh corpses and found hair growth and blood spots around mouths , their minds naturally wandered to undeath.
Not that becoming undead is anything we need to worry about today.
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The Challenge Of Comparing Brains And Computers
If you are looking for the most powerful graphics processing unit on the market today, you will find devices that contain about 54 billion transistors. Going a step further, if you had access to a supercomputer, you would have the power of 2.5 trillion transistors. These ginormous;numbers, however, still pale in comparison to the biological wiring of the human brain, which contains, by one calculation, upwards of one thousand trillion synapses . This illustrates that for all our advances in computer hardware, we are still many orders of magnitude away from engineering the raw calculating power of the human brain.;;
In a special supplement to;Nature, The Four Biggest Challenges in Brain Simulation, science writer Simon Makin explored this vast divide by outlining four hurdles to quantum modeling of the brain: scale, complexity, speed, and integration.;;
In comparing brains to computers, Makin also noted that speed means more than the raw processing power of a computer chip. Computer analogs must also take into account the amount of time it takes a brain to develop and learn new skills.
Researchers have taken some early steps;toward bridging the differences in scale between synapses in the human brain and transistors in a classical computer by creating scaled down models of the brain. According to Makin, the most detailed simulation incorporating biophysical models was that of a partial rat brain, with 31,000 neurons connected by 36 million synapses.;;
Probably Nothing But There Are Cooler Ways To Exploit Quantum Mechanics For Bcis
Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him
Brain-computer interfaces are slowly beginning to take form, and here at Neural we couldnt be more excited! Elon Musks Neuralink claims its on the cusp of a working device and been developing non-invasive BCI tech for years.
If everything goes according to plan, we could be wearing doo-dads or getting chip implants that allow us to control machines with our minds in a decade or less.
Thats a pretty cool idea and there are innumerable uses for such a device, but who knows how useful theyll actually be in the beginning.
Its easy to get swept up in dreams of controlling entire drone swarms with our thoughts like a master conductor or conducting telepathic conversations with people around the world via the cloud.
But the current reality is that the companies working on these devices are spending hundreds of millions and, so far, we can use them to play pong.
This isnt meant to denigrate the use of BCIs in the fields of medicine and accessibility, were strictly talking about recreational or personal-use gadgets. But, judging from the above video, it could be a while before we can ditch our iPhones and PS5 game pads for a seamless BCI.
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Zombie Brains Are A Thing
There is life after death if you’re a pig…sorta. Image source: Wikimedia Commons)
Recently at the Yale School of Medicine, researchers received 32 dead pig brains from a nearby slaughterhouse. No, it wasn’t some Mafia-style intimidation tactic. They’d placed the order in the hopes of giving the brains a physiological resurrection.
The researchers connected the brains to an artificial perfusion system called BrainEx. It pumped a solution through them that mimicked blood flow, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the inert tissues.
This system revitalized the brains and kept some of their cells “alive” for as long as 36 hours postmortem. The cells consumed and metabolized sugars. The brains’ immune systems even kicked back in. And some samples were even able to carry electrical signals.
Because the researchers weren’t aiming for Animal Farm with Zombies, they included chemicals in the solution that prevented neural activity representative of consciousness from taking place.
Their actual goal was to design a technology that will help us study the brain and its cellular functions longer and more thoroughly. With it, we may be able to develop new treatments for brain injuries and neurodegenerative conditions.
The Brain As A Classical Computer
Quantum computers have to deal with all kinds of problems that classical computers dont have. One is known in quantum physics as decoherence. Wave functions are fickle things. They like to spread out and get entangled to all kinds of other things from the outside of the quantum system. Keeping the wave function of the qubits, in which your information is stored in a quantum system, from decohering, is a really really difficult engineering problem, as adding error correction is far from trivial, while in the classical Turing machine, a simple piece of paper can reliably carry information forward in time.
To build a quantum system that stores information and manipulates it with qubits is an engineering challenge that messy mother nature would probably have a hard time implementing through incremental, random changes, and considering the time-scales involved in neural computation, and the fact that it is going on at room temperature, people like Max Tegmark have argued that decoherence time scales are far too small for them to play any role in the brain.
This for me is the most convincing argument that the brain is indeed a classical computer in every aspect that counts .
We are not entirely sure how information is stored and processed in the brain , but using qubits as the atoms of information storage and information processing would be quite surprising.
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Quantum Coherence Among Neurons
These two types of coherence in the brain that are postulated, microtubules and phase lock, seem to involve neurons oscillating at one particular frequency. Other neurons pick up coherence patterns at different amplitudes and frequencies. These might represent different patterns of thought or attention. As a result, we can do one task without being distracted by all the other brain activity happening at the same time.
The major criticism of these theories is that coherence has appeared to be very fragile even at very small distances. It has been mainly demonstrated in tiny molecular systems. Some note that it is unlikely to work with warm, wet biological systems. But, in the past ten years a variety of different studies have shown probable coherence, tunneling and entanglement in the cellular biological environment making coherence a conceivable mechanism for coordination of oscillating neurons.
A Summary Of An Argumentative Paper By Litt Eliasmith Kroon Weinstein And Thagard
Consciousness, learning, perception, and memory are mental phenomena that are essential for defining the self and identity. With the rise of quantum computing, theorists have compared explaining mental phenomena to quantum computing in that non-local entanglement and superposition can lead to the possibility for such mental phenomena to exist. However, researchers at the University of Waterloo argue that quantum computing is not essential for explaining mental phenomena like consciousness. Their claim is that mental functions are best explained by neurocomputations rather than quantum mechanics.
Quantum computing is based on the use of so-called qubits . Unlike standard bits, 1s and 0s, of classical computing, qubits can have both 1 and 0 existing simultaneously as the state of a single bit using superposition. The advantage of quantum computing over classical computing is processing speed for certain types of applications. Quantum computing maximizes the optimal processing number of computations per calculation.
“Although the discovery of solid evidence for fundamentally quantum characteristics of mental phenomena would be tremendously exciting, current ideas fall well short of this standard.”
For further details on the paper, and the arguments against quantum mechanics explaining brain function, please follow the link: Is the Brain a Quantum Computer?
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Could Quantum Brain Effects Explain Consciousness
ByTanya Lewis27 June 2013
NEW YORK The idea that consciousness arises from quantum mechanical phenomena in the brain is intriguing, yet lacks evidence, scientists say.
Physicist Roger Penrose, of the University of Oxford, and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, of the University of Arizona, propose that the brain acts as a quantum computer a computational machine that makes use of quantum mechanical phenomena to perform complex calculations. In the brain, fibers inside neurons could form the basic units of quantum computation, Penrose and Hameroff explained at the Global Future 2045 International Congress, a futuristic conference held here June 15-16.
The idea is appealing, because neuroscience, so far, has no satisfactory explanation for consciousness the state of being self-aware and having sensory experiences and thoughts. But many scientists are skeptical, citing a lack of experimental evidence for the idea.
The Orch OR model
Penrose and Hameroff developed their ideas independently, but collaborated in the early 1990s to develop what they call the Orchestrated Objective Reduction model.
But Penrose’s theory didn’t explain how this quantum computing occurred inside actual brains, just that the phenomenon would be needed to solve certain mathematical equations. Hameroff read Penrose’s work and suggested small fibrous structures that give cells their structural support known as microtubules might be capable of carrying out quantum computations.
Human Brain Vs Quantum Computer
Do you think the human brain is best describeda) Quantum computerd) None of the aboveCheers
I have read that the brain can operate at a sub-atomic level at the Axon, but not Quantum .
Paul Davies lecture was on life and consciousness as emergentphenomena. He laid out many basic quantum terms and phenomenain a clear way: quantum indecision, superposition, entanglement,quantum clock, coherence, decoherence, and gravity. Then, in anadmittedly wildly speculative tone he suggested that the conditionsfor life and consciousness might be limited by quantum effects, andthat the former might have harnessed quantum effects to improve performance,so that quantum mechanics might be their midwife or atleast helper. Time keepers in cells might be quantum clocks; proteinsmight fold at a quantum edge; decoherence may be the killer; andthoughts move muscles through downward causation. He closed withthe challenge to find the physics of consciousness…
berkeman said:Axons are not sub-atomic. Axons operate at the cellular level with electrochemical reactions.
If I were a “quantum computer” is there some line of question that you can ask me to determine if I were either a human or computer?
setAI said:the human brain is an electro-chemically based classical computer which contains ~10^15 bits of information and processes it at ~10^16 operations per second
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Bridging The Divide Between Quantum Computing
A quantum computer operates by controlling the behavior of fundamental subatomic particles like photons and electrons. But unlike larger agglomerations of matteratoms, molecules, or peoplesubatomic particles are notoriously unruly. This is both a blessing and a curse when using them to make computations.;;
It is a blessing because it enables quantum computers to perform specific tasks at almost unimaginable speeds. For example, todays basic quantum processors can manipulate vast amounts of incomplete or fuzzy data, making them ideal for factoring large numbers, which is a key step along the path to secure quantum cryptography.;
It is a curse because the more powerful the quantum computer, the harder it is to control, program, and operate.;;
The fundamental difference between a classical computer and a quantum computer boils down to how they manipulate bits, or single pieces of data. For a classical computer, bits are just vast streams of zeros and ones, the binary code of machine language.;;
A quantum bit, however, is not so rigid. It can be a zero, a one, or an infinite range of possibilities in between. This is the quantum property known as superposition, made famous by Schrödingers thought experiment that rendered an unobserved cat both alive and dead at the same time.;;;;
Thats not to say brute force isnt necessary with quantum computers. It just comes at the front end.;
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Science Fiction To Technological Fact
From the Earth-orbiting satellites first proposed by Arthur C. Clarke to the remote-controlled mechanical arms envisioned by Robert Heinlein, science fiction has often presaged technological innovations.;;
A lesser known but equally influential example of speculative science fiction appeared in When Harlie Was One, written by David Gerrold and published in the early 1970s. Harlie was a newly created computer endowed with artificial intelligence that struggled with the same emotional and psychological dilemmas that many human adolescents face. To help guide it to adulthood, Harlie had the support of a psychologist named David Auberson, who tried to understand its immature yet phenomenally analytical mind.;;
This story about the intersection between human psychology and computer technology explored both the promise of artificial intelligence and the fundamental inability of biological and electronic brains to understand each others motivations and mental states.;;
Though we are likely centuries away from this kind of self-aware artificial intelligence, modern computers already apply so-called fuzzy logic to solve a wide array of problems. They also use artificial intelligence algorithms to guide autonomous vehicles and neural networks to crudely mimic;certain aspects of human cognition.;;
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Quantum Biology And The Soul
Penroses hypothesis inspired a psychology professor in Arizona named Stuart Hameroff. As a practicing anesthesiologist, Hameroff knew that anesthesia works by shutting down small proteins inside neurons called microtubules, and this shuts off a persons consciousness. Penrose and Hameroff teamed up to continue researching the possibility of the brain as quantum computer. Incredibly, their the brain can actually store its quantum information in the universe itself, so that even if the brain was to die, its information would not die with it. That information can be held indefinitely in the universe, and can return to a revived brain, or even into another brain. This would explain near death experiences and clinical deaths, and provides a scientific explanation for reincarnation and a life after death. The death of the body does not at all mean the death of the person, or that persons memories and thoughts.
While there are those who are quick to criticize the theory and reject it, no one has been able to actually refute it. In fact, since the theory was first proposed, more and more evidence has accumulated to support it. In 2014, quantum biologist Anirban Bandyopadhyay successfully demonstrated the quantum activity of microtubules.