On 3/19/2012 8:36 PM, Joseph Knight wrote:


    There are many arguments about how the brain is a classical machine and 
those are
    fine but if you examine them they all seem to be narrowly focused on some 
particular
    aspect of brain physiology. Max Tegmark's paper focused on ion transport.


Wrong. Tegmark's result is /very /general because it shows that decoherence timescales are /many /orders of magnitude smaller than those of brain functioning (neuron firing, etc.).

    Resent research has proven that quantum effects are indeed used by organic 
systems
    to increase their efficiency in energy conversion processes,


Indeed, for biophysical systems whose relevant timescales are comparable to those of decoherence.

    and we have barely scratched the surface, so why are we so eager to go all 
in with
    the assumptions about classicality?


I for one am not so eager. I am neutral on whether consciousness is related to quantum phenomena, in spite of the contravening evidence. In fact, I am probably more open to the idea than the average commentator. But it doesn't matter in this context.

I think there are other good reasons to suppose that the brain's information processing is (almost) all classical. First, the brain needs to keep records. It isn't going to work if information is destroyed whenever it used. Quantum data in general is destroyed when it is read out to control classical things - like muscles. Classical computers solve this by keeping copies. Second, however the brain works it had to evolve. It is used to interpret and act in a classical world of macroscopic objects. It needs to be reliable and in most cases deterministic. There is plenty of environmental noise to provide randomness where randomness may be advantageous.

Brent

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