Nonlocal correlations between separated neural networks

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I came across this link: http://spie.org/x648.html?product_id=540785

Paper abstract:
In recent times the interest for quantum models of brain activity has rapidly grown. The Penrose-Hameroff model assumes that microtubules inside neurons are responsible for quantum computation inside brain. Several experiments seem to indicate that EPR-like correlations are possible at the biological level. In the past year , a very intensive experimental work about this subject has been done at DiBit Labs in Milan, Italy by our research group. Our experimental set-up is made by two separated and completely shielded basins where two parts of a common human DNA neuronal culture are monitored by EEG. Our main experimental result is that, under stimulation of one culture by means of a 630 nm laser beam at 300 ms, the cross-correlation between the two cultures grows up at maximum levels. Despite at this level of understanding it is impossible to tell if the origin of this non-locality is a genuine quantum effect, our experimental data seem to strongly suggest that biological systems present non-local properties not explainable by classical models.

Author(s): Rita Pizzi; Andrea Fantasia; Fabrizio Gelain; Danilo Rossetti; Angelo Vescovi
It was published in a journal called "Quantum Information and Computation II". I checked the accepted journal list of physicsforums (this one http://www.thomsonscientific.com/cgi....cgi?PC=MASTER [Broken]) and in it i found this journal "QUANTUM INFORMATION & COMPUTATION". I do not know if this is the same journal, because of the missing "II". When i googled the journal name, i also found it with the numbers III, IV, V, VI, VII, etc. So perhaps it just gets a new number every year or every 2 months.

Im curious if more is known about this research. Has it been replicated, explained, debunked?
 
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  • #2
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Unfortunately I have no sources to cite... hopefully someone will come along with some.

This is completely bogus! The basic aspects of it don't even make sense (see below). The Penrose-Hameroff model itself is also absolutely insane (even though Penrose is one of the greatest scientists alive.... unlike Hameroff...). The model is entirely speculative, and makes zero sense.

"Our experimental set-up is made by two separated and completely shielded basins where two parts of a common human DNA neuronal culture are monitored by EEG."
This doesn't make any sense. "DNA neuronal culture" doesn't mean anything. And an 'EEG' is explicitly used on an entire (living) person's head, not on a cell culture.

"Our main experimental result is that, under stimulation of one culture by means of a 630 nm laser beam at 300 ms"
This is ridiculous. You don't stimulate neurons with lasers.... That's what you would see in Frankenstein's laboratory, not in a research institution. Also, they're premise is that correlations should be occurring without stimulation at all....
 
  • #3
berkeman
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I came across this link: http://spie.org/x648.html?product_id=540785

Paper abstract:


It was published in a journal called "Quantum Information and Computation II". I checked the accepted journal list of physicsforums (this one http://www.thomsonscientific.com/cgi....cgi?PC=MASTER [Broken]) and in it i found this journal "QUANTUM INFORMATION & COMPUTATION". I do not know if this is the same journal, because of the missing "II". When i googled the journal name, i also found it with the numbers III, IV, V, VI, VII, etc. So perhaps it just gets a new number every year or every 2 months.

Im curious if more is known about this research. Has it been replicated, explained, debunked?
Unfortunately I have no sources to cite... hopefully someone will come along with some.

This is completely bogus! The basic aspects of it don't even make sense (see below). The Penrose-Hameroff model itself is also absolutely insane (even though Penrose is one of the greatest scientists alive.... unlike Hameroff...). The model is entirely speculative, and makes zero sense.

"Our experimental set-up is made by two separated and completely shielded basins where two parts of a common human DNA neuronal culture are monitored by EEG."
This doesn't make any sense. "DNA neuronal culture" doesn't mean anything. And an 'EEG' is explicitly used on an entire (living) person's head, not on a cell culture.

"Our main experimental result is that, under stimulation of one culture by means of a 630 nm laser beam at 300 ms"
This is ridiculous. You don't stimulate neurons with lasers.... That's what you would see in Frankenstein's laboratory, not in a research institution. Also, they're premise is that correlations should be occurring without stimulation at all....
Actually (it was not intuitive to me at all at first either), there is a growing area of brain research that is using light to stimulate photosensitized neurons. Here's a Google hit list:

http://www.google.com/search?source...4GGLL_enUS301US302&q=neuron+stimulation+light

Pretty amazing stuff. I don't know about the Quantum Mechanics angle of the OP's reference, though. Will have to do more reading (although quantum is certainly not one of my specialties).
 
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  • #4
AlephZero
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I must admit that Penrose's model (or speculation?) seems mainly like an attempt to show that "mind" is something separate from "classical physics". If we can't put the soul or the mind in the pineal gland any more (lke Descartes did) then let's put it in quantum physics instead.

Newton published a lot of raving nonsense, as well as some very good physics. Penrose may or may not have done the same. Time will tell.
 
  • #5
I'm deeply unconvinced, but I don't see any way to materially disprove the notion yet. This could very well be an attempt to pawn of the "mystery" of the mind on something yet more vague, but that doesn't make it wrong. By the same token, the source doesn't make it right, and I'm rather suspicious of the ability to test non-locality in such a complex system.

Unlike photosynthesis, this is a very unlikely setup to show any real-world meaning. OK, we live in a quantum world, so we see the effects... I don't see how the conclusions about the mind can be drawn from this.
 
  • #6
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I found the full paper:
http://faculty.nps.edu/baer/CompMod-phys/PizziWebPage/pizzi.pdf [Broken]
 
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  • #7
I found the full paper:
http://faculty.nps.edu/baer/CompMod-phys/PizziWebPage/pizzi.pdf [Broken]
NPS said:
Despite at this level of understanding it is impossible to tell if the origin of this non-locality is a genuine quantum effect,our experimental data seem to strongly suggest that biological systems present non-local properties not explainable by
classical models.
bolding mine...
 
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  • #10
Ryan_m_b
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Actually (it was not intuitive to me at all at first either), there is a growing area of brain research that is using light to stimulate photosensitized neurons.
This is often done with engineered cells however that have been given a light sensitive voltage gate derived from algae, it's called optogenetics.

 
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  • #11
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On this subject at least Penrose is a bit of a quack.

Sure quantum effects can effect biology, that's a given but how they affect it is key. It's accepted that at the level of enzyme interaction in DNA they have to adapt to quantum interactions which play an increasing role as scale decreases for example. Nanotech in biology relies on lots of quantum phenomena.

The idea that at body temperature quantum fluctuations have any impact as a signal transmitter is lets say, debatable to say the least. Decoherence would occur long before these signals had any chance of transferring a viable signal so I'm afraid for the most part the old fashioned electro-chemical signal theories are pre-eminent in science. Not that I think it isn't a viable area of research you just have to be careful how far you go through the wardrobe, or Narnia awaits.
 
  • #12
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Actually, sustained coherence at ambient or body temperatures isn't as crazy as you think... it's already been demonstrated in the photosynthetic light harvesting complex in plants, which they utilize to transfer energy over a distance. Adapting this as a signal transmitter would seem only a small step beyond this.

http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1001/1001.5108.pdf
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7281/full/nature08811.html

Given this evidence, to think that neurons in animals have not retained or evolved a mechanism that lower order plants have (a mechanism that would enormously aid their functioning and survival), seems preposterous to me. But of course, I think we should wait and see before officially concluding anything, and we should absolutely direct our scientific instruments in that direction.
 
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  • #13
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Quantum-level effects seem to be becoming "respectable" in another area of biology.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12827893
Absolutely. It would be idiotic to say something like, "no quantum effect is important for large-scale systems." Contrary examples exist all over the physical universe, and there's no reason to suspect that it wouldn't be true in biological systems. The very structure and interaction of proteins is determined by quantum mechanical effects, as is the action of certain gate-ways, etc etc and thus all higher level processes 'rely' on quantum mechanics.

Actually, sustained coherence at ambient or body temperatures isn't as crazy as you think... it's already been demonstrated in the photosynthetic light harvesting complex in plants ....
http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1001/1001.5108.pdf
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7281/full/nature08811.html
This stuff is perfectly reasonable. Its easy to believe that individual molecules, very nearby, can interact quantum mechanically, coherently, with incident light... the scale of the molecules and the separations are of the same order of magnitude as the light...

Adapting this as a signal transmitter would seem only a small step beyond this.
...
Given this evidence, to think that neurons in animals have not retained or evolved a mechanism that lower order plants have (a mechanism that would enormously aid their functioning and survival), seems preposterous to me.
None-the-less, this doesn't make any sense. QM is NOT scale invariant. Just because an electron can tunnel, doesn't mean its natural to say that a baseball will as-well. Just because entangled photons can be correlated, doesn't mean that two, macroscopically separated (see the original article of interest), large-scale neuronal networks (made up of 100s of billions of molecules absolute minimum), with unimaginable numbers of degrees of freedom will do the same.

Just because there are philosophically analogous processes going on in other situations, does not mean that it is natural to extrapolate to the arguments of the OP.

The original paper's arguments are tantamount to saying that relativity presents significant corrections to neuronal operations... NO its just the wrong scales. Just because simple objects like black-holes involve shapiro delays, doesn't mean that because more complex systems like people will then utilize the same things. Just because special relativistic effects have been observed in simple systems like cosmic rays, doesn't mean that inter-neuronal communication observes the same influence because we can think 'so fast' as-well.
 
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  • #14
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So is this whole thing completely bogus or is still open ended? should further research be done on this or it will be just a waste of time?
 

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