The Quantum Limit of the Vision Process

by Gerald Huth on June 6, 2007

I have not had much time to think about vision lately, but the following text written some weeks ago seems sufficiently important to introduce even in it’s incomplete form. I will add Comments shortly on the subject of the quantum aspects of the vision process.
Gerry Huth


“Experimental data shows that the eye can detect (‘count’) single photons. This capability defines the ‘quantum limit’ of the vision process. As Albert Rose stated eloquently (paraphrased) ‘this is the end of the line in the evolutionary process – the sensitivity of vision cannot be further increased’! There is really no debate about this, but, the mechanism underlying this sensitivity has never been explained.

It is obvious that invoking the terms ‘photon’ and ‘quantum’ that vision actually interacts with the reality of quantum physics and that these physics must be involved in any ultimate explanation of vision! There are many in the physics community attempting to address the subject of a quantum connection with neuroscience……and the retina as noted by Roger Penrose is a direct extension of the brain! This subject has not, and could not be, addressed in the literature of vision as long as the eye was perceived to be the analogue of a “camera” with the usual line of thought in this regard involving long image integration times of the order of photographic film, i.e., on a macro time scale of the order of fractions of a second. This is the overarching view tacitly assumed by vision science to this day.

From the view of photonics technology there is a glaring disconnect here. The only way that this field knows of to detect light at this low level in contemporary imaging systems (“photomultipler” tubes, etc.) is to either apply large electronic amplification (not at all evident or possible in biological systems) or, to reduce the temperature of the system to close to absolute zero to reduce signal-obscuring noise. Neither of these considerations is evident in the eye and, moreover, vision accomplishes this feat even above room ambient at body temperature.

I propose an explanation positing that the only way to explain this (and it must be explained!) is that the logically spaced array (of a 100 million or so receptors) of discrete light detection elements must be considered independently with each possessing electronic characteristics consistent with the requirements for detecting single quanta. Considering individual light detection elements (or devices) is the only way to explain detection at this ultimate level of sensitivity.

The characteristics of these individual devices includes both: a.) the sub-optical wavelength dimensionality of each element (characterized by the appositional “electromagnetic antenna” distances between two retinal receptors) and, b.) a new approach that considers that a vastly reduced time scale is involved reaching at least into the sub-picosecond (10-12 sec) time domain. Electronic (thermally generated) noise is a time integrated function with shorter times reducing the number of discrete, unwanted electronic noise events that are included in any event detection “time window”. The integration time of the eye may extend even to femtosecond (10-15 sec) time or less. The key to this sensitivity lies, I believe, in a paper that a number of us published some years ago (referenced elsewhere) to the point that the only way that signal obscuring thermal noise can be reduced is by considering that the detection process occurs on a very fast time scale. Noise is a time-integrated function!

The idea that the retinal image is acquired in very fast time is supported by data indicating that this is the “switching time” of the fundamental, signal-producing’ retinal molecule with in the rhodopsin complexes contained in receptors of the retina.

One most note that this combination of sub-micron dimensionality and brief time scale brings the process of vision into the realm of quantum physics – where we must go!.

If the situation is as I propose, the visually acquired image can be said to be “quantum noise limited envisioning a two dimensional array (the retinal surface) with each receptor capable of detecting a single photon quantized events – a ‘quantal image’. This is the scenario envisioned by Albert Rose in his splendid book. It represents, however, a classical view of what must be viewed as a quantum construction! How must one treat an ‘array of quantum events’? I will leave this line of thought for a moment and return to what visual image processing from the retina to the visual cortex of the brain must consist of.

One will then ask: how is such an ephemeral (i.e., in time) signal perceived by the much slower human nervous system? I have proposed that transmission of the visual image information through the two million or so individual fibers that comprise the optic nerve accomplishes this function ‘slowing down the image’ to ‘human nervous system time’, or, ~10-2 seconds. Transmission through this nerve bundle has been historically assumed to be ionic that would have the proper time constant. A recent hypothesis proposes that this transmission may actually use solitons (coherent phonons) in a lossless mode.

I might suppose that some sort of time integration of acquired “quantal image” information must occur somewhere in this process. .a new window for the vision/mind process into what I term “quantum reality” is provided by this logic.

From the above it should be obvious that in both space and time this explanation approaches the realm of quantum physics.




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Paolo Manzelli July 6, 2007 at 2:28 am


“Bio-Quantum Physics is the best theory to predict fundamental nature of life “
by : Paolo Manzelli , President of EGOCREANET/ONNS –

- Legenda : Retinking Quantum- neurobiology of vision

O = Object ; P1= Photon ; SP2 = scattered Photon ; B = ocular Bulb ; E = entangled Photons ;
R= retina ; IA = Anti- symmetric Information-Signals ; IS = Symmetric Information-Signals ;
LB = Left Brain Hemisphere; 2D = Two Dimension Anti-symmetric Information ;
4D = Fourth Dimension Coherent Quantum Information ; 2D’ = Two Dimension Symmetric Information ;
RB = Right Brain Hemisphere ; OB = Occipital Brain – Quantum Holography turning into images light stimuli;
V= Vision result in 3 D +Time (t) ; MM = Memory Matrix controlling Saccades (Scc) of ocular Bulb.

Abstract : The role of entanglement in Quantum Bio-Physics of Vision permits to establish a theory of brain bio-images formation by means of Q. Holography reconstruction. (1)

James July 24, 2007 at 8:11 pm

Quantum doesn’t imply “quantum physics” so much as it entails discrete particles. The “quantum limit” in this case has nothing to do with, say, the Schrodinger equation but instead has to do with the fact that photons only come in integer quantities.

You can’t get half a photon, etc., so in that sense, one photon is the “quantum limit”.

James July 24, 2007 at 8:22 pm

Also, I haven’t read much of your blog or your CV, but how familiar are you with the biology of the actual rods and cones themselves?

As I said above, the phrase “quantum limit” is not used because of quantum mechanics. However, quantum mechanics is certainly at play in the detection of photons. Indeed, the -opsins both “receive” the photon and, since they change physical structure, induce the time delay that you discussed in this article.

Your articles are interesting, but they would be more pleasant to read if you discussed what is known (or, if you prefer, believed) to occur, how your model differs from these known models, and why your model is correct. As they are currently written, your articles don’t seem to jive with known biology; I’m sure I’m missing some of your subtler points since I’m too caught up in reinterpreting your claims in the currently accepted framework.

Paolo Manzelli September 26, 2007 at 6:30 am

EGOCREANET research team iniciate to develop a entanglement theory to understand the interactions between sense’s receptors and evironment, to reinterpret through “entangled quantum pairs activities the flow of signal transduction between biological systems and quantum particles coming from the external world.
For example, the spatial and temporal orchestration of events that occurs in human vision of the environment can be potentiated through the confinement of entangled photons in the retina of the eyes, obtaining the possibility to utilize of an unlocalised communication flowing in and out the brain in order to process signal information for producing the mental construction of vision.
In fact during the eye’s mind vision process based on the photon chemical reactivity at the retina, the power sensitivity of the signal transmission can be further increased by the entangled photon pairs by means of the simultaneity of Q.Information Exchange.
Hence Entangled photon pairs non localised activity permits to understand for istance the phenomena of empathy an also telepathy and other no local remote mental interactions , through a subliminal expanded mind perception working at distance as well as the teleportation of pure information energy.

Paolo Manzelli – Firenze 26/SETT/2007 – LRE@UNIFI.IT

Paolo Manzelli October 26, 2007 at 9:04 am

The Entanglement theory tell us that there are two ways of communication of information. see in
A) The classic Info-Transmission from a local state 1 to a local state 2 . In this case the information can be transmitted no faster than the speed of light.
B) After the entanglement of photon’s pairs the energy become near to the zero point ( lower to the Uncertainty principle level ) so that assumes an hologrammatic structure where there are a synchonic simultaneity of no classic Info-exhange in the entangled virtual chain of phonons.

The eyes-brain cooperation can utilize this second way to exhange of information .

As a matter of fact we are able to se immediately the sun light and we are not blind for about eight minutes in the morning before to see the juping up of the sun.

Please tray to think about. Paolo Manzelli OCT/26/07 Fi

Paolo Manzelli January 17, 2009 at 10:15 am

It’s possible to link together two quantum particles – photons of light or phonons of sound and also atoms or DNA’s folding , in an entanglig way that makes them over the same location -matrix , which carry out a new Quantum state of space-time identical for the enntangled-”…ons”.
Therefore Quantum Entanglement generates dense coding that would be useful for launcing the new field of quantum bits communication.
In classical coding, a single photon will convey only one of two messages, or , one bit of information. In dense coding, a single photon can convey one of four messages, or two Q.bits of information. Besides multi-photons and multi-photons entanglement can produce in the brain an new hyper- no-localized space-time this multple entangling “…ons” procedure is producing a bidimensional “information energy” (1) that can be split in 3D passing through the virtual -dreaming reality to the objective vision as it is effectively constructed by the brain perception.
Paolo Manzelli

(1) See ;
(2) ;

See also:

philip caswell July 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Photons are massless. But do colours carry different weights in any sense, is say green heavier than red? However colour is explained it still leaves the arbitary sense of the colour, say red, unfathomable, why is it red instead of green or any other colour? Are we left to say that a certain wavelength excites a certain colour sensation because this is how it is, its red because its red? The colour is not in the wavelength itself, but where is it then, how does it ‘get into’ the brain or is there a pot of colours undiscovered in the brain! Colour does not seem to have a location, its photonic composition defies spatial location. Its not in the brain, its not on the object, its not in the wavelength. Why IS red red and not green, it all seems arbitary.

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