(ORDO NEWS) — A new study by scientists suggests that the brain actually has a lot in common with a quantum computer.
The results obtained can teach us a lot about the functions of neurons, as well as the basics of quantum mechanics.
This study could explain, for example, why our brains are still able to outperform supercomputers in certain tasks, such as making decisions or learning new information.
Like many studies in quantum computing, the study addresses the idea of entanglement—two separate particles are in a bound state with each other.
“We adapted an idea developed for experiments to prove the existence of quantum gravity, whereby you take known quantum systems that interact with an unknown system,” says physicist Christian Kerskens from the University of Dublin.
“If known systems get entangled, then the unknown must also be a quantum system.
This gets around the difficulty of finding measurement devices for something we know nothing about.”
In other words, entanglement or interconnection between known systems can only occur if the intermediary system in the middle (the unknown system) also works at the quantum level.
Although the unknown system cannot be studied directly, its effects can be observed, just as in the case of quantum gravity.
The proton rotations of “water in the brain” (fluid that accumulates in the brain) act as a known system, with special magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) used to non-invasively measure proton activity.
The rotation of a particle, which determines its magnetic and electrical properties, is a quantum mechanical property.
With this technique, the researchers were able to see signals resembling heartbeat-evoked potentials, which are a type of electroencephalography (EEG) signal.
These signals are usually not detected by MRI and are thought to be due to entangled nuclear proton spins in the brain.
The team’s observations need to be verified by future research in various scientific fields, but the early results look promising.
“If entanglement is the only possible explanation here, then that would mean that brain processes must have interacted with nuclear spins, mediating entanglement between nuclear spins,” says Kerskens.
“As a result, we can conclude that these brain functions must be quantum.”
The brain functions that illuminated the MRI readings were also associated with short-term memory and consciousness, suggesting that if this is the case, then quantum processes play a crucial role in cognition and consciousness, Kerskens suggests.
Researchers should learn more about this unknown quantum system in the brain and then we could fully understand the workings of the quantum computer that we carry around in our heads.
Contact us: [email protected]