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Invited Talk
Quantum information and the Brain
Scott Aaronson

Tue Dec 04 09:00 AM -- 09:50 AM (PST) @ Harveys Convention Center Floor, CC

Ever since quantum mechanics was discovered nearly a century ago, famous scientists from Eddington to Wigner to Compton to Eccles to Penrose have speculated about possible connections to the brain -- a quest often parodied as "quantum mechanics is mysterious, the brain is mysterious, ergo they must be related somehow." In this talk, I'll offer a critical survey of these ideas from the modern standpoint of quantum information theory, pointing out the huge conceptual and experimental problems that have plagued most concrete proposals. However, I'll also explain why I think some role for quantum mechanics in cognition is not yet excluded, and discuss what sorts of advances in neuroscience and physics might help settle the question.

Author Information

Scott Aaronson (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Scott Aaronson received his PhD in computer science from UC Berkeley in 2004, then did postdocs at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton and at the University of Waterloo. He's now TIBCO Career Development Associate Professor at MIT. His research interests center around the limitations of quantum computers, and computational complexity theory more generally. He also writes a popular blog (www.scottaaronson.com/blog) and created the Complexity Zoo (www.complexityzoo.com), an online encyclopedia of computational complexity theory. He received the National Science Foundation's Alan T. Waterman Award in 2012.