Your daily selection of the latest science news!
According to ScienceAlert
It’s all connected.
It’s impressive enough that our human brains are made up of the same ‘star stuff‘ that forms the Universe, but new research suggests that this might not be the only thing the two have in common.
Just like the Universe, our brains might be programmed to maximise disorder – similar to the principle of entropy – and our consciousness could simply be a side effect.
The quest to understand human consciousness – our ability to be aware of ourselves and our surroundings – has been going on for centuries. Although consciousness is a crucial part of being human, researchers still don’t truly understand where it comes from, and why we have it.
But a new study, led by researchers from France and Canada, puts forward a new possibility: what if consciousness arises naturally as a result of our brains maximising their information content? In other words, what if consciousness is a side effect of our brain moving towards a state of entropy?
Entropy is basically the term used to describe the progression of a system from order to disorder. Picture an egg: when it’s all perfectly separated into yolk and white, it has low entropy, but when you scramble it, it has high entropy – it’s the most disordered it can be.
This is what many physicists believe is happening to our Universe. After the Big Bang, the Universe has gradually been moving from a state of low entropy to high entropy, and because the second law of thermodynamics states that entropy can only increase in a system, it could explain why the arrow of time only ever moves forwards.
So researchers decided to apply the same thinking to the connections in our brains, and investigate whether they show any patterns in the way they choose to order themselves while we’re conscious.
To figure this out, a team from the University of Toronto and Paris Descartes University used a type of probability theory called statistical mechanics to model the networks of neurons in nine people’s brains – including seven who had epilepsy.
Specifically, they were looking at synchronisation of neurons – whether neurons were oscillating in phase with each other – to figure out whether brain cells were linked or not…
- Got any news, tips or want to contact us directly? Email email@example.com