DOI: 10.14704/nq.2010.8.1.271

Why We Need Quantum Physics for Cognitive Neuroscience

Sultan Tarlacı


For the past 20 years and more, arguments about the role of quantum mechanics in consciousness and mind theory have been mounting. On the one side are traditional neuroscientists who believe that the way to understanding the brain is through looking at the nerve cells. On the other side are various physicists who suggest that the laws of quantum mechanics may have an influence on the dynamics of consciousness and the mind. At the same time however, consciousness and the mind cannot be separated from matter. They originate in the microscopic world of the human brain. There can be no definite separation between mind and matter; there is no ‘mind’ without ‘matter’, and no ‘matter’ without ‘mind’. In terms of cognitive neuroscience, we know a great deal about the working of nerve cells. For example, we understand quite well about the formation of action potential, ion exchange, energy use, axonal transport, the vesicle cycle, and formation, oscillation and breakdown in nerve transmission. But we still do not understand how experience is formed in our material brain (color, sound, smell, taste, pain, imagination, decision, dreams, love, or orgasm) and how consciousness arises in an unconscious material organ. The insufficiency of these answers no doubt arises from the insufficiency of the methods used by cognitive science.


mind; consciousness; quantum physics; qualia; cognitive neuroscience

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