Quantum Mechanics Could Be Used To Describe
The Way Memory Works And Revolutionise The
Way We Think About The Human Mind
Science and technology researcher Professor
Peter Bruza is leading a study to explore the
similarities between associations in human and
the quantum correlations, also known as quantum
Professor Bruza said entanglement was a bizarre
phenomenon in which seemingly separate quantum
systems behaved as one.
"In quantum mechanics, systems are physically
non-separable, and this characteristic trait is
called entanglement," he said.
"The key to our research is to consider non-separability
as something applicable to the cognitive realm of memory."
Professor Bruza said like the systems found in
quantum mechanics, words were inseparable from
their associated words.
"Whenever a person recalls a word, associated words
always come to mind, and, in fact, it is impossible
to not recall those associated words," he said.
"For example, if I say the word 'bat' and ask
you to tell me the next word you think of, it
might be 'vampire'. Then if I ask you to do the
same with the word 'boxer', you might reply 'dog'.
"In this case, we could speculate that the words
'bat' and 'boxer' are entangled in your memory
because after associating bat with an animal, you
also associated boxer with an animal instead of with sport.
"This would be significant because experiments
show people are predisposed to associate the
word 'boxer' with sport and are more likely to
choose a word like 'gloves'.
"The way people associate words is very
intriguing. It could revolutionise how we
understand the workings of human memory.
"Ultimately we are hoping this theory will
lead to a new genre of information processing
technology that is genuinely aligned with human cognition."
Professor Bruza's team has joined with empirical
psychologists at the University of South Florida,
US, to undertake the Quantum mechanics of semantic
space study, which has received an Australian
Research Council Discovery grant.
"Fundamentally the study is about gaining an
understanding of the intriguing connections between
cognitive science and quantum theory," he said.
"We are investigating whether mathematical similarities
between word associations and quantum theory could
lead to totally new models of how humans process
words and meaning."
Professor Bruza said quantum theory was probably
the most stunningly successful theory ever devised.
"At present, there are no known experimental
deviations from its predictions," he said.
"While often thought of as only applying to the
sub-atomic realm, quantum theory is also crucial
for explaining why stars shine, how the universe
formed and the stability of matter."
Queensland University of Technology
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