DOI: 10.14704/nq.2014.12.1.696

The Mind-Brain Problem and the Measurement Paradox of Quantum Mechanics: Should We Disentangle Them?

Javier Sánchez-Cañizares


In recent decades, progress in the field of neurosciences has triggered an interest in understanding mind-brain relationships. Quantum Mechanics (QM) has been present in the debate from its beginnings through the well-known measurement paradox. The standard interpretation of QM considers two basic, fundamentally irreducible, processes: the deterministic evolution of the wave-function according to the Schrödinger equation, once the initial conditions have been settled; and the indeterministic wave-function collapse into one of the possible outcomes, after performing a specific measurement. So, QM would point to the limits of a purely deterministic view of nature and, in particular, of brains. Nevertheless, QM’s relevance for the brain’s physics is still to be proven. Detractors of the QM influence are confident of the role of decoherent processes at different physical scales in order to ensure a classical deterministic behavior of the brain. However, little attention is paid to the epistemic implications of invoking decoherence for the mind-brain problem. In this paper, (i) we present lasting QM models stating a specific view of human consciousness and make explicit their position regarding the relationship between the physical activity of neurons and/or networks of neurons and the phenomenal conscious experience; (ii) we review the main criticisms of the relevance of QM in the brain and, most importantly, we bring out the philosophical implications behind the usual recourse to decoherence in the transition from the quantum to the classical world, explaining why the mind-brain problem and the measurement paradox should not be disentangled.


Mind-Brain Problem; Quantum Mechanics; Decoherence; Consciousness; Top-Down Causation

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Supporting Agencies

Mind-Brain Group of ICS (University of Navarra)

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