The pursuit of an understanding of the base machinery of the mind led early researchers to anatomical exhaustion. With neuroscience now in the throes of molecular mayhem and a waning biochemical bliss, physics is spicing things up with a host of eclectic quantum, spin, and isotopic novelties. While increases in electron spin content have been linked to anesthetic effects, nuclear spins have recently been implicated in a more rarefied and subtle phenomenon— neural quantum processing.
Matthew Fisher from University of California at Santa Barbara has hashed out one scenario by which it all could work in a new paper now on the Arxiv server. He notes that while small molecules and ions would rapidly entangle with a surrounding wet environment and therefore couldn't maintain quantum coherence on macroscopic time scales, nuclear spins are exceptional in being so weakly coupled to environmental degrees of freedom that prolonged phase coherence is likely.