IMR Press / FBL / Volume 23 / Issue 8 / DOI: 10.2741/4652

Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

Open Access Review

Are there optical communication channels in the brain?

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1 Institute for Quantum Science and Technology and Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Calgary, Calgary T2N 1N4, Alberta, Canada
2 Department of Oncology, University of Alberta, Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton T6G 1Z2, Alberta, Canada
3 Department of Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton T6G 2E1, Alberta, Canada
4 National Institute for Nanotechnology, Edmonton T6G 2M9, Alberta, Canada
Front. Biosci. (Landmark Ed) 2018, 23(8), 1407–1421; https://doi.org/10.2741/4652
Published: 1 March 2018
Abstract

Despite great progress in neuroscience, there are still fundamental unanswered questions about the brain, including the origin of subjective experience and consciousness. Some answers might rely on new physical mechanisms. Given that biophotons have been discovered in the brain, it is interesting to explore if neurons use photonic communication in addition to the well-studied electro-chemical signals. Such photonic communication in the brain would require waveguides. Here we review recent work (S. Kumar, K. Boone, J. Tuszynski, P. Barclay, and C. Simon, Scientific Reports 6, 36508 (2016)) suggesting that myelinated axons could serve as photonic waveguides. The light transmission in the myelinated axon was modeled, taking into account its realistic imperfections, and experiments were proposed both in vivo and in vitro to test this hypothesis. Potential implications for quantum biology are discussed.

Keywords
Brain
Biophotons
Myelinated axons
Waveguides
Quantum
Review
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