A Quantum Mind?

The field of quantum mechanics offers an insight into how nature solves seemingly impossible problems. The field loomed into view when mathematicians worked with imaginary and complex numbers. The square root of -1 is an imaginary number.   Such a number was considered an impossibility. Yet, scientists speculated with equations using such numbers. Surprisingly, those equations explained some bizzare results of scientific experiments.

Conventional physical laws clearly differentiated the behaviors of particles and waves. Particles were obviously different from waves.  Surprisingly, research revealed that photons behaved simultaneously like both waves and particles. Those new equations gave a logical rationale for those results. Those equations were seen to govern the very behavior of our universe. Those equations also led to powerful new routines in the newly emerging field of quantum computing. The experience gained from these routines may also provide a rationale for some of the most mysterious capabilities of the human mind.

  • How does the brain remember millions of smells?
  • Combinatorial coding by the olfactory system.
  • Axon hillocks "summate" the incoming information.
  • Axons trigger specific functions in the nervous system.
  • The meaning of combinatorial coding.
  • Axon hillocks store memory.
  • Quantum computing deals with an infinity of probabilities.
  • Navigation by birds.
  • Quantum entanglement by the Cry4 protein.
  • Quantum effects may operate in the axon hillock.

The Quantum Mind Memory Storage
The olfactory system is a marvel of the nervous system. With an olfactory epithelium about forty times larger than in humans, dogs can detect human scent on a glass slide that has been lightly fingerprinted and left outdoors for as much as two weeks, or indoors for as long as a month. Leslie Vosshall reports that, in her lab, ordinary volunteers, (not wine tasters or perfumers), could clearly remember and distinguish between different combinations of 128 odor molecules, indicating an average human ability to differentiate between 1 trillion smells. After all, one must remember the previous smell to differentiate it from the subsequent one. How is the memory of a smell stored?  Science has no explanations of how the mind forms memories.  Could quantum science provide a clue?

The Quantum Mind The Olfactory System
A few of the 50 million receptors in the olfactory epithelium fire nerve signals on recognition of octanol molecules. The nerve impulses cascade through the axons of a receptor array, a glomeruli array and a mitral cell array. The same molecule is recognized by several different receptors and the axon of a glomerulus responds to several different odor molecules.

Octanol is remembered by a combination of four different glomeruli. Octanic acid, in which the hydroxyl group of octanol is replaced by a carboxyl group, is remembered by six different glomeruli.  
In 1999, researchers reported that the olfactory system uses a combinatorial coding system (Nobel Prize 2004).  This process enabled the system to recognize that octanol has an orangy rose-like scent and that octanic acid smells like sweaty feet  How does combinatorial firing recognize smells?  What role does the neuron play in the process?

The Quantum Mind The Summation
Neurons are basic functional units of the nervous system. They receive signals called action potentials at the synapses of their dendrites. The incoming dendritic signals support further activity, or inhibit the receiving neuron. The neurons integrates the signals and send outputs through their axons. The soma, the cell body of the neuron, contains the nucleus and the axon hillock. Science believes that the axon hillock sums up the excitatory and inhibitory signals it receives to send an all, or nothing output through the axon. The "summation" is thought to be done at the axon hillock, from which the axon extends outwards. The flow of impulses through axons power every activity of the mind. A group of axons must fire for you to take a breath, remember a story, sing song, or write a word.

The Quantum Mind Functional Response
The summation at the axon hillocks of 100 billion nerve cells rule all mental activity.  A single axon of a sensory neuron triggers the knee-jerk reflex by triggering the action of a motor neuron. When someone taps the tendon below your knee, motor neurons fire to contract the quadriceps to straighten the knee. If the axon errs, problems arise.

For example, 
for a particular patient, crocodile tears are triggered by tastes and aromas. Because of a lesion in the facial nerves, the axons from the salivary nerves regenerated and linked wrongly to the tear duct system. On receiving salivary impulses, the tear duct complex triggered tears. A single axonal fault caused this problem. The axons of neurons deliver pivotal instructions to other neurons, muscles or glands to activate specific functions. The nervous system works because its axon hillocks deliver functional decisions. But, is "summation" the key process within the axon hillocks?

The Quantum Mind Combinatorial Coding
Summation, one of the most fundamental assumptions of science, may hide a powerful activity,  Anyway, axon hillocks do not summate. They differentiate between the axonal inputs from other neurons. Only the impulses received from the sensory axon sets off the knee-jerk reflex. The source of the axon is critical for combinatorial messages. The identity of each element of a combination is critical. To illustrate the concept, let us assume that the olfactory glomeruli have alphabetic labels. Assume that octanol was remembered by a combination of six different glomeruli (say O, R, A, N, G, E); that octanic acid was remembered by four different glomeruli, (say S,W,E,A,T). If the mitral cell array "summated" received messages, it would interpret the messages as SIX, or FOUR. But, they indicated ORANGE, or SWEAT. This pivotal memory for combinations by axon hillocks can be the basis for human memories.

The Quantum Mind Axon Hillock Memory
It is only possible for the mind to recognize the smell of an orange, if it remembers the smell. A combinatorial memory is matched with a combinatorial sensory input. A single synapse of a dendrite cannot record a combinatorial memory. Only the axon hillock can view the whole picture. Only combinatorial memories in axon hillocks can logically trigger mental activities. Even receptor neurons fire, because each receptor has a coded memory for a specific sensory input. Axon hillocks in the association regions use memories to recognize objects and events.

Inherited or acquired axonal memories of motor systems fire to contract or relax muscles and to control body systems. Implicit axon hillock memories operate in the subconscious and are not available for conscious axonal recall. Declarative axon hillock memories permit such recall. Working memories are combinatorial axonal memories cycled for brief periods. Procedural axon hillock memories power the motor system to play a musical instrument, or to ride a bike.  Quantum science may explain how axon hillocks recall memories.

The Quantum Mind Quantum Computation
Quantum mechanics opened a new view of how nature solves seemingly impossible problems. Qubits are the basic units for quantum computation. They define probabilities for individual coins in a group of flipping coins. Equations represent the shared rotational positions of several rotating coins. They represent interference, where coins bump into each other to change the outcome. They postulate superposition where the midair coin is simultaneously heads and tails.

Realizing the immense potential, maths created new algorithms and physics created quantum computers.  Here, controlled currents through Josephson junctions produce quantum effects.  Controlled current flows manipulate qubits in an interference pattern to produce a finite answer, while cancelling out millions of probabilities. They help drug companies devise new medicines, or create new materials with desired properties. They can find the fastest route between two points separated by several rivers crossed by several bridges. Science suggests that nature uses quantum computing in the brains of birds.

The Quantum Mind Bird Migration
Around the world, birds, insects, and other species take the most direct routes to their watering holes, or to migration destinations. The hippocampus carries a visual, olfactory and gustatory map of their worlds. Typically, eye movement and head direction cells act as an inertial compass to chart their geographic movement and position. These eye and ear coordinates are mapped by the head direction cells, grid cells, and border cells. These cells contain a neural map of their sensory spatial environment. But, for migrating birds which cross vast oceans, there are few visual clues.

Each year, the black-capped, red-billed arctic terns make a 49,700 mile round trip between breeding grounds in the Arctic and the Antarctic. With few visible landmarks,  these birds take paths, which lead them, with an accuracy of 1 foot in 1000 feet, to their destinations 10,000 miles apart. They need to maintain a uniform magnetic direction and be aware of their exact position on the globe. Scientists believe that the birds carry an accurate map of the variations in the strengths of earth's magnetic field along their oceanic flight paths.

The Quantum Mind The Cry4 Protein
Scientists believe that it may be the quantum entanglement of the Cry4 protein, found in the retina in the eyes of migratory birds, which enables magnetic vision. When exposed to blue light, these proteins act as light-activated switches and empower the 24 hour cycle of the circadian clock. To prepare for the journey, birds store up on food and Cry4 in the weeks preceding the migration. This spike in Cry4 is not observed in non-migratory birds during the same time of the year.

Scientists theorize that the switching of states between molecules during quantum entanglement conveys key data to power bird navigation. When a particle of light hits the Cry4 protein, an electron is knocked out of one molecule and joins another. The two molecules then have an odd number of electrons, creating a radical pair. Since both radicals are created at the same time, they are locked into quantum entanglement. Even when physically separated, they are synchronized. Until the molecules recover, they flip-flop back and forth between two distinct chemical states.  A molecule in one of the two states produces a specific chemical which influences the receipt of magnetic signals in the bird’s visual cortex. The other molecule does not.  The proportion of time that this radical pair spends in one chemical state versus the other provides key positioning data. Quantum entanglement may transmit impulses from the retina of the birds to its navigation system.

The Quantum Mind
Science suggests that nature uses quantum computing in the brains of birds.  Controlled current flows manipulate qubits in the quantum computer. At the critical axonal hillock level, quantum effects may influence the "summation" which triggers the all or nothing action potential. Neurons receive action potentials at the synapses of their dendrites. The incoming dendritic signals vary dramatically in strength and frequency. Varying current flows into the axon hillock may manipulate information in an interference pattern to produce an answer, while cancelling out millions of probabilities. 

Genetic codes may carry inherited responses to the incoming signals. Changes in protein structures may store memories of past inputs. Superpositions, where two flipping coins are simultaneously heads and tails may be evaluated.  Not "summation," but quantum computation may deliver an all or nothing response to problems using  inherited and acquired memories. The grandeur of the mind may flow from the infinite range of probabilities and possibilities in the quantum space within the 100 million axon hillocks in the nervous system.  The wisdom existing in those spaces may have powered the genius of Einstein and Mozart.  The decisions made in those spaces enable us to breathe, to weep in anguish and enjoy the sunset.



JUST THINK.  What happens when you begin to talk?  Your nervous system has picked an emotion. 
It has articulated an idea around it, chosen apt words, arranged them in lexical and grammatical order
 and adjusted the pitch of your voice.  You've no idea what words you wii use. 
Who's actually in charge?  You, or your nervous system?

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