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LINK: pre.aps.org/abstract/PRE/v61/i4/p4194_1

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Phys. Rev. E 61, 4194–4206 (2000)

Importance of quantum decoherence in brain processes

Abstract

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Max Tegmark*

Institute for Advanced Study, Olden Lane, Princeton, New Jersey 08540

Department of Physics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Received 6 July 1999; published in the issue dated April 2000

Based on a calculation of neural decoherence rates, we argue that the degrees of freedom of the human brain that relate to cognitive processes should be thought of as a classical rather than quantum system, i.e., that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the current classical approach to neural network simulations. We find that the decoherence time scales (~10-13–10-20s) are typically much shorter than the relevant dynamical time scales (~10-3–10-1s), both for regular neuron firing and for kinklike polarization excitations in microtubules. This conclusion disagrees with suggestions by Penrose and others that the brain acts as a quantum computer, and that quantum coherence is related to consciousness in a fundamental way.

© 2000 The American Physical SocietyURL: link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevE.61.4194

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.61.4194

PACS: 87.17.Aa, 05.30.-d, 87.19.-j, 87.18.Sn

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