Scientists have suggested that consciousness in the brain works like a quantum computer.
A team of scientists from Trinity College Dublin has suggested that our brains can use quantum computing to work. This is one explanation for the phenomenon of consciousness, as science still struggles to understand and describe it. Also, this kind of brain ability could explain why we still outrun computers when it comes to dealing with the unintended consequences of actions, decision-making, or learning.
The study was co-authored by Dr. Christian Kerskens, a leading physicist at Trinity College’s Institute for Neurobiology (TCIN). The work was published in the Journal of Physics Communications.
According to him, the idea came to them after experiments where scientists tried to prove the existence of quantum gravity. In the experiments, known quantum systems interacted with unknown ones. If known systems had entanglement, then the unknown system must also be quantum. This approach circumvents the difficulties associated with measuring systems about which nothing is known in advance.
In experiments, scientists measured the spins of protons in brain fluid, acting as the known system. Spins can be measured with MRI machines, and with the special setup of such machines, it is possible to look for entangled spins. Scientists have detected signals on MRI scans that look like oscillations associated with the heartbeat, one type of EEG signal read out in the measurement of electrical brain activity.
Normally, these signals are not visible on MRI scans, so the scientists thought they could be observed because of the entanglement of the protons’ spins. And from this, according to Kerskens, it can be concluded that the brain functions as a quantum system. Because these brain functions have been correlated with short-term memory and consciousness work, there is a strong possibility that these quantum processes are an important part of the brain’s cognitive functioning and consciousness work.