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Brain experiment suggests that consciousness relies on quantum entanglement

Published in Consciousness, The Quantum World.

Supercomputers can beat us at chess and perform more calculations per second than the human brain.

But there are other tasks our brains perform routinely that computers simply cannot match — interpreting events and situations and using imagination, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Our brains are amazingly powerful computers, using not just neurons but the connections between the neurons to process and interpret information.

And then there is consciousness, neuroscience’s giant question mark. What causes it? How does it arise from a jumbled mass of neurons and synapses? After all, these may be enormously complex, but we are still talking about a wet bag of molecules and electrical impulses.

Some scientists suspect that quantum processes, including entanglement, might help us explain the brain’s enormous power, and its ability to generate consciousness. Recently, scientists at Trinity College Dublin, using a technique to test for quantum gravity, suggested that entanglement may be at work within our brains. If their results are confirmed, they could be a big step toward understanding how our brain, including consciousness, works.

Quantum processes in the brain
Amazingly, we have seen some hints that quantum mechanisms are at work in our brains. Some of these mechanisms might help the brain process the world around it through sensory input. There are also certain isotopes in our brain whose spins change how our body and brain react. For example, xenon with a nuclear spin of 1/2 can have anesthetic properties, while xenon with no spin cannot. And various isotopes of lithium with different spins change development and parenting ability in rats.