Transitions in brain evolution: space, time and entropy

Jeffery, K. J. and Rovelli, C. (2020) Transitions in brain evolution: space, time and entropy. Trends in Neurosciences, 43(7), pp. 467-474. (doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2020.04.008) (PMID:32414530) (PMCID:PMC7183980)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.

Abstract

How did brains evolve to become so complex, and what is their future? Brains pose an explanatory challenge because entropy, which inexorably increases over time, is commonly associated with disorder and simplicity. Recently we showed how evolution is an entropic process, building structures – organisms – which themselves facilitate entropy growth. Here we suggest that key transitional points in evolution extended organisms’ reach into space and time, opening channels into new regions of a complex multidimensional state space that also allow entropy to increase. Brain evolution enabled representation of space and time, which vastly enhances this process. Some of these channels lead to tiny, dead-ends in the state space: the persistence of complex life is thus not thermodynamically guaranteed.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:K.J.J. is supported by grants from the Wellcome Trust (WT103896AIA) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/R004765/1), and C.R. is supported by grant FQXi-RFP-1818 from the Foundational Questions Institute and Fetzer Franklin Fund, a donor advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation and by grant 61466 for 'The Quantum Information Structure of Spacetime (QISS) project' by the Templeton Foundation.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jeffery, Dr Kate
Authors: Jeffery, K. J., and Rovelli, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Trends in Neurosciences
Publisher:Elsevier (Cell Press)
ISSN:0166-2236
ISSN (Online):1878-108X
Published Online:27 April 2020

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record