Can Biological Quantum Networks Solve NP-Hard Problems?
Journal article, 2019

There is a widespread view that the human brain is so complex that it cannot be efficiently simulated by universal Turing machines, let alone ordinary classical computers. During the last decades the question has therefore been raised whether it is needed to consider quantum effects to explain the imagined cognitive power of a conscious mind. Not surprisingly, the conclusion is that quantum-enhanced cognition and intelligence are very unlikely to be found in biological brains. Quantum effects may certainly influence signaling pathways at the molecular level in the brain network, like ion ports, synapses, sensors, and enzymes. This might evidently influence the functionality of some nodes and perhaps even the overall intelligence of the brain network, but hardly give it any dramatically enhanced functionality. The conclusion is that biological quantum networks can only approximately solve small instances of nonpolynomial (NP)-hard problems. On the other hand, artificial intelligence and machine learning implemented in complex dynamical systems based on genuine quantum networks can certainly be expected to show enhanced performance and quantum advantage compared with classical networks. Nevertheless, even quantum networks can only be expected to solve NP-hard problems approximately. In the end it is a question of precision-Nature is approximate.

cognitive science

quantum networks

philosophy of the mind

computational complexity




Göran Wendin

Chalmers, Microtechnology and Nanoscience (MC2), Quantum Technology


2511-9044 (eISSN)

Vol. 2 7-8 UNSP 1800081

Subject Categories

Computer Engineering


Communication Systems



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