What is the quantum mind?

The quantum mind is a recent theory that tries to explain what consciousness is. Today we will tell you all about her.

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz on November 19, 2021.

Last update: November 19, 2021

Most people are familiar, even a little, with quantum mechanics. That is to say, that theory that accounts for the behavior of physics at subatomic levels. The practical applications this has, or how it can be related to other areas, are often ignored. In the case of the latter we find the quantum mind.

The quantum mind, also known as the quantum consciousness, is a hypothesis that raises to explain the problem of consciousness. Although it has not a few detractors, to the point that some consider its researchers as pseudoscientists, at least is an interesting theory that tries to explain one of the greatest mysteries of humanity.

What is quantum physics?

To understand what the quantum mind is, you must first understand, very superficially at least, what quantum physics is. At the beginning of the 20th century there was a schism in our interpretation of the physical world. Scientists of the stature of Max Planck, Max Born, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger and many others built the fundamental postulates of the theory.

In very simple terms, all of these discovered that physical interactions at the subatomic level diverged with the physical knowledge we had at the macro level. It was necessary to create from scratch a model that tried to account for this interaction, a model that would come to be called mechanics or quantum physics.

Subatomic scale interactions are far from macro scale interactions. However, and as far as we know, everything that we can see today (and what we cannot also) can be explained from these; since the Universe is built on the basis of subatomic particles. The birth of the stars, their death, the air, the light and everything you can see part of the basis of this theory.

This saving a lot of convoluted details, of course. Ideas such as quantum superposition, quantum entanglement or the indeterminacy principle of a particle ceased to be ideas worthy of a magic trick to become proven reality through empirical experimentation.

What is the quantum mind?

Physics allows us to understand how the universe works, including all the processes that characterize us as human beings.

Now that you understand the general ideas of inner theory, you can understand what the quantum mind is. Ideas about a quantum consciousness are already found in scientists such as Eugene Wigner or Freeman Dyson. However, within the framework of systematic postulates, we can say that the most solid contributions are born from the hand of Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff.

The first, a theoretical physicist (winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2020), the second, an anesthesiologist. In their studies and research they point out that the neural system that gives life to the brain forms an extensive intricate network, in which consciousness would be explained through the postulates of quantum physics. This is known as Penrose-Hameroff model.

The idea dictates that this entire network is made up of cellular cylindrical microtubules that couple and regulate synaptic functions. Consciousness would be generated in between, so that quantum theory would be the key to solving the problem of consciousness.

In general, three possibilities are considered: a) consciousness is the result of quantum processes in the brain, b) quantum concepts are useful to understand consciousness apart from brain activity, and c) both matter and consciousness are they consider dual aspects of reality. Remember that so far there is no theory that satisfactorily explains what consciousness is.

Criticisms of the quantum mind

As you can imagine, the theory received infinity of criticism from its inception, but also some praise. One of the most important criticisms is that quantum is manifested, in principle, at very cold temperatures (near absolute zero). In warm temperatures, interactions cease to manifest.

This has led many researchers to dismiss the theory. Some have even come to call it a pseudoscience. In turn, it has served as a promoter of what is now known as quantum biology, as well as that other experts inquire about the viability of a consciousness explained from quantum models.

The problem of consciousness

The human mind is a field of which much remains to be learned. For many, understanding human consciousness is finding the greatest scientific discovery.

Consciousness, in very simple terms, is the knowledge you have of yourself, your actions and who you are. Also, it is the ability to interpret and decode the world outside of you. Although multiple theories have emerged to explain how it originates or what regulates it, we actually know very little about it. Ultimately, consciousness is a problem for scientists.

Viewed quickly it seems like a minor problem, but it is actually the holy grail of much current research. Explaining how something can emerge from a gelatinous mass that determines who we are and what we do is the goal of millions of scientists around the world.

This was not always the case, of course. Until relatively recently consciousness was not an important element for science. It was thought that it belonged to the realm of fantasy, or in any case that it could never be explained with the help of the scientific method. Our understanding of neural activity and other aspects of the brain has led us to rethink these ideas.

The main obstacle when studying it is evident: it is an unobservable entity. This would not seem like a problem, since we are continually studying things that we cannot see (like atoms, to return to quantum physics). The fact that our conscience regulates what we can know about conscience does not help at all to solve the problem.

Apart from all this, keep in mind that the quantum mind is a theory that seeks to explain the way in which consciousness is created. Is it a perfect or complete theory? Not at all. Do you have unanimous support from the community? Either. However, as we learn more about brain and quantum processes in the future, we will be able to delve further into these ideas.

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