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Can Mind Affect Matter Via Active Information?

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Mainstream cognitive neuroscience typically ignores the role of quantum physical effects in the neural processes underlying cogni┬Čtion and consciousness. However, many unsolved problems remain, suggesting the need to consider new approaches. We propose that quantum theory, especially through an ontological interpretation due to Bohm and Hiley, provides a fruitful framework for addressing the neural correlates of cognition and consciousness. In particular, the ontological interpretation suggests that a novel type of 'active information', connected with a novel type of 'quantum potential energy', plays a key role in quantum physical processes. After introducing the ontological interpretation we illustrate its value for cognitive neuroscience by discussing it in the light of a proposal by Beck and Eccles about how quantum tunneling could play a role in controlling the frequency of synaptic exocytosis. In this proposal, quantum tunneling would enable the 'self' to control its brain without violating the energy conservation law. We argue that the ontological interpretation provides a sharper picture of what actually could be taking place in quantum tunneling in general and in synaptic exocytosis in particular. Based on the notions of active information and quantum potential energy, we propose a coherent way of understanding how mental processes (understood as involving non-classical physical processes) can act on traditional, classically describable neural processes without violating the energy conservation law.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Birkbeck College, University of London.

Publication date: January 1, 2005


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