Giuseppe Vitiello

Dipartimento di Fisica "E.R.Caianiello", Universita' di Salerno, 84100 Salerno, Italia

Relevant Psychiatric Research

Giuseppe Vitiello is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Salerno, Department of Physics and Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN). His research activity is focused on elementary particle physics and the physics of living matter and brain. He is author of about 140 research papers, many reports to International Conferences and of the books: Quantum Mechanics, co-authored with H. Umezawa (Bibliopolis, Napoli 1985 and, translated in Japanese, Nippon Hyoron Sha. Co.Ltd., Tokyo, Japan 2005), My Double unveiled (John Benjamins Publ. Co., Amsterdam 2001). Quantum field theory and its macroscopic manifestations, co-authored with Massimo Blasone and Petr Jizba (Imperial College Press, London 2011). Together with Gordon Globus e a Karl Pribram, he is editor of the book Brain and Being. At the boundary between science, philosophy, language and arts. (John Benjamins Publ. Co., Amsterdam, 2004). --

A Long Shadow over the Soul: Molecular and Quantum Approaches to Psychopathology An Interdisciplinary Dialog with Psychiatrists FANO - March 2012

The Dissipative quantum model of Brain

Imaging of scalp potentials and cortical surface potentials of animal and human from high-density electrode arrays has demonstrated the dynamical formation of patterns of synchronized oscillations in neocortex in the beta and gamma ranges. They re-synchronize in frames at frame rates in the theta and alpha ranges and extend over spatial domains covering much of the hemisphere in rabbits and cats, and over domains of linear size of about 19 cm in human cortex with near zero phase dispersion [1].

By resorting to the dissipative quantum model of brain [2,3], I describe [4] the field of activity of immense number of synaptically interactive cortical neurons as the phenomenological manifestation of the underlying dissipative many-body dynamics such as the one responsible of the formation of ordered patterns and phase transitions in condensed matter physics in quantum field theory. I stress that neurons and other brain cells are by no means considered quantum objects in our analysis.

The dissipative model explains two main features of the electroencephalogram data: the textured patterns correlated with categories of conditioned stimuli, i.e. coexistence of physically distinct synchronized patterns, and their remarkably rapid onset into irreversible sequences resembling cinematographic frames. Each spatial pattern is described to be consequent to spontaneous breakdown of symmetry triggered by external stimulus and is associated with one of the unitarily inequivalent ground states. Their sequencing is associated to the non-unitary time evolution in the dissipative model. The dissipative model also explains the change of scale from the microscopic quantum dynamics to the macroscopic order parameter field, and the classicality of trajectories in the brain state space. Moreover, by resorting to recent results relating fractal self-similarity with the coherent state structure, the dissipative model also accounts [5] for the self-similarity and scale-free dynamical properties of brain observed in laboratory [1,6,7].

The dissipative quantum model enables an orderly description that includes all levels of the microscopic, mesoscopic, and macroscopic organization of the cerebral patterns. By repeated trial-and-error each brain constructs within itself an understanding of its surround, the knowledge of its own world that we describe as its Double [3]. The relations that the self and its surround construct by their interactions constitute the meanings of the flows of information exchanged during the interactions. I comment on the perception-action arc in the light of the dissipative model and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of perception.

  1. W. J. Freeman, Origin, structure, and role of background EEG activity. Part 1 & 2, Clin. Neurophysiol. Vol. 115, 2077 & 2089 (2004); Part 3 Vol. 116, 1118 (2005) ; Part 4. Vol.117, 572 (2006).
  2. G. Vitiello, Dissipation and memory capacity in the quantum brain model, Int. J. Mod. Phys. B 9, 973 (1995). quant-ph/9502006.
  3. G. Vitiello, My Double Unveiled. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2001.
  4. W. J. Freeman and G. Vitiello, Nonlinear brain dynamics as macroscopic manifestation of underlying many-body dynamics, Phys. of Life Reviews 3, 93 (2006), q-bio.OT/0511037.
    W. J. Freeman and G. Vitiello, Brain dynamics, dissipation and spontaneous breakdown of symmetry, J.Phys. A: Math. Theor. 41, 304042 (2008), q-bio.NC/0701053v1
  5. G. Vitiello, Coherent states, Fractals and brain waves, New Mathematics and Natural Computation 5, 245-264 (2009)
  6. W. J. Freeman and J. Zhai, Cogn. Neurodyn. 3 (1), 97 (2009).
  7. E. D. Gireesh and D. Plenz, PNAS 105, 7576 (2008).
    T. Petermanna, T. C. Thiagarajana et al, PNAS 106, 15921(2009).