Scientists May Have Witnessed Signs of Quantum Entanglement in Human Brain


Scientists at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience say they may have witnessed entanglement mediated by consciousness-related brain functions.

“We adapted an idea, developed for experiments to prove the existence of quantum gravity, whereby you take known quantum systems, which interact with an unknown system,” said study’s lead author Dr. Christian Kerskens, lead physicist at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience.

“If the known systems entangle, then the unknown must be a quantum system, too.”

“It circumvents the difficulties to find measuring devices for something we know nothing about.”

In their experiments, Dr. Kerskens and his colleague, Dr. David López Pérez, used proton spins of ‘brain water’ as the known system.

“Brain water builds up naturally as fluid in our brains and the proton spins can be measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),” they explained.

By using a specific MRI design to seek entangled spins, the authors found MRI signals that resemble heartbeat evoked potentials, a form of EEG signals.

“EEGs measure electrical brain currents, which some people may recognize from personal experience or simply from watching hospital dramas on TV,” Dr. Kerskens said.

“Electrophysiological potentials like the heartbeat evoked potentials are normally not detectable with MRI and the scientists believe they could only observe them because the nuclear proton spins in the brain were entangled.”

“If entanglement is the only possible explanation here then that would mean that brain processes must have interacted with the nuclear spins, mediating the entanglement between the nuclear spins,” he added.

“As a result, we can deduce that those brain functions must be quantum.”

“Because these brain functions were also correlated to short-term memory performance and conscious awareness, it is likely that those quantum processes are an important part of our cognitive and conscious brain functions.”

“Quantum brain processes could explain why we can still outperform supercomputers when it comes to unforeseen circumstances, decision making, or learning something new,” Dr. Kerskens said.

“Our experiments performed only 50 m away from the lecture theatre, where Erwin Schrödinger presented his famous thoughts about life, may shed light on the mysteries of biology, and on consciousness which scientifically is even harder to grasp.”

If the team’s results, published in the Journal of Physics Communications, can be confirmed, they would enhance our general understanding of how the brain works and potentially how it can be maintained or even healed.

They may also help find innovative technologies and build even more advanced quantum computers.


Journal of Physics Communications

Experimental indications of non-classical brain functions

DOI 10.1088/2399-6528/ac94be