Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures

Light-Based Quantum Processes in the Brain

Date Range

2020-12-14 to 2021-01-07

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Living cells emit a constant stream of photons at an ultraweak intensity. Colloquially referred to as biophotons, it is still not clear what role they play nor how they are generated in the first place. Energy metabolic processes involving the decay of electronically excited molecular species generated chemically during oxidative metabolic processes in the mitochondria seem to be one such source. Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) in particular have a number of variants with multiple mechanisms for the production of biophotons during both the normal functioning of the cell (i.e., the electron transport chain) or initiated by various biotic or abiotic stressors and oxidative factors (i.e., chemically induced oxidative stress). It has been suggested with some evidential support that these biophotons may play a role in neuronal communication and that this system is broken in neurodegenerative disease. As oxidative stress plays an important role in the neurodegenerative process it is hypothesized that neurons undergoing neurodegeneration will emit an altered biophoton profile compared to healthy tissue. In this presentation the history, theory and evidence for a potential endogenous light-based signaling system in the brain will be presented. The purpose is to generate thoughtful discussion on this emerging idea. Potential benefits of harnessing this process, and how this may lead to practical and effective strategies to identify and delay neurodegenerative decline will also be discussed.