As physicists strive to create ever more complex and powerful quantum computers, new research suggests our brains are harnessing a similar process.
In a new study published in the Journal of Physics Communications, a team of scientists from Trinity College Dublin suggests that our brains may actually use quantum computing. If confirmed (which will require further research), such a finding could help explain why, in some ways, our brain still surpasses supercomputers.
This work is based on the phenomenon ofquantum entanglementimplying that two particles become so inextricably linked that measuring or changing one of them instantly affects its partner, regardless of the distance between them.
” We adapted an idea, proposed for experiments aimed at proving the existence of quantum gravity, whereby you take known quantum systems, which interact with an unknown system “, explains Christian Kerskens, co-author of the study.
” If the known systems intertwine, then the unknown must also be a quantum system. »
In the case of this experiment, the proton spins of the fluid in our brains served as ” known system “. Kerskens and his team then used a particular type of MRI imaging to detect if any of the protons’ spins were entangled at the quantum level. Curiously, these ended up identifying a specific type of brain electrical signal known as ” heartbeat evoked potentials », not being normally detectable by MRI.
” Quantum entanglement of proton spins in the brain allowed us to detect these potentials », explains Kerskens. “ If this is the only possible explanation, it would mean that brain processes must have interacted with nuclear spins, allowing them to become entangled. Therefore, we can deduce that these brain functions must be quantum. »
While this is an intriguing possibility, there is still much to prove. The study builds on relatively recent proposals in the field of quantum gravity and, as its authors admit, their efforts were largely undertaken from the perspective of quantum physics.
In other words: given the complexity of the brain, a substantial multidisciplinary effort will prove essential to demonstrate this theory.