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Quantum Mechanics and our Brains

  1. May 30, 2004 #1
    Has anyone ever conducted a study that checked the influence of quantum mechanics on our brains? I am asking because sometimes this is used as a leeway out of the deterministic universe problem - if everything follows physical laws, then the inital setup of the big bang has determined how the universe would look like ad infinitum. So then someone mentions quantum mechanics - it makes anything but sense and works on probabilities rather than predetermined outcomes.

    So my question is really twofold: Firstly, do quantum fluctuations affect our brain? Do they decide whether I will choose an apple over an orange? Personally I find this a bit hard to digest, because everything that occurs in our brains is ultimately random how can we be thinking clear thoughts, unless we are not affected by these quantum effects? Secondly, do we know if the behaviour of particles once they are measured is random as a whole, but predetermined for each particle, or just completely random? Let's ake the double-slit experiment for example, and send one photon at a time. We send a photo and see that it hits a certain spot, if we were to go bac in time (which we can't) and send the same photon again, would it hit the same spot (i.e its behaviour is predetermined) or would it hit a completely different spot (random behaviour)?

    Perhaps the answer to the second question is that the particles' behaviour is predetermined, it's just that we can't predict it (as opposed to classical physics which enable us to predict the outcome given complete details of the inital setup). If that's the case, then the answer to the first question doesn't matter - the universe is deterministic, and everything we do results from a single moment in time in which the universe came to be.

    Thank you for reading and I'm sorry if this sounds like a layman's ramblings - it is. :smile:
    Last edited: May 30, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. May 30, 2004 #2
    I think the answer to your question is yes. Try to read one of these text (the one where Q plays with Pickard at the begining) about quantum game theory which I've give link to in some thread.
  4. May 30, 2004 #3
    I did read some pages which offered a (simplistic) explanation of quantum games and they also gave the example of Q and Pickard... but I don't see how it all relates to that question I asked above? :smile:

  5. May 30, 2004 #4
    Ok, let's imagine some fruits: an apple and an orange. If you were told before that the apple is poisoned you would take an orange (normal GT). However, due to QGT, if you wasn't told that before you would have different 'tactic' (it's like when 'scores' aren't sumarized) - you would take:
    1. the apple
    2. the orange
    3. both
    4. none
    And this is it. We live in the world perfectly described by QGT...
  6. May 30, 2004 #5
    You might be interested in this:


    although it is a little difficult to take it seriously.

    On the other hand, this:


    is a good discussion of the possible role of conciousness in quantum theory.

    In a hidden variable theory of quantum mechanics, everything is deterministic. However, such theories must necessarily be non-local (from Bell's theorem) and contextual (from the Kochen Spekker theorem). If you can stomach such a theory then it is possible to construct a deterministic theory that is in full agreement with quantum mechanics, e.g. Bohmian mechanics. Most such theories run into difficulties when trying to make a relativistic version of the theory, but it is not clear whether the difficulties are insurmountable.

    Most physicists prefer to reject realism and then the Bell and Kochen Spekker theorems are not such a big problem. They also have a less problematic relativistic version of the theory, namely standard quantum field theory.

    The short answer is that we don't know enough about how consciousness works to say if quantum mechanics plays a role. We also have not resolved all of the foundational difficulties of quantum mechanics, so anything that can be said on the matter is in the realms of speculation (though it might be very interesting speculation from a philosophical point of view). In my opinion, this is likely to be the case for a very long time.
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