quantum physics; entanglement; vision; subliminal perception; Bell inequality
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The main goal of this project is to perform a Bell experiment with human observers, in other words, an experiment in which entangled photons will be seen by humans. Let us recall that entanglement is nowadays recognized as the characteristic of quantum physics; it is at the heart of quantum information science and is the necessary resource that allows one to produce nonlocal correlations (i.e. correlations that, although nonsignaling, violate Bell’s inequality). We believe that such experiment would be fascinating for the following reasons. First of all, it will allow a more direct access to the phenomena of entanglement, probably one of most astonishing and mysterious concept of modern physics. Indeed, such experiment would allow us to remove one interface between the observer and the quantum particles, namely the man-made detectors. Moreover, such experiment is conceptually very different from previous Bell experiments, in the sense that the amplification process (of single photons by stimulated emission, i.e. photon cloning at the quantum limit), which is usually performed inside a photon counter at the final stage of the experiment, will here be performed before the actual choice of measurement. This point, which may a priori appear as a mere technicality, has in fact a deep significance, and would therefore be of great interest to the scientific community. This ambitious project requires the realization of an adequate environment for the “human detector”, the focusing of weak light pulses in the eye and the collection of the responses, both conscious and via EEG recording. Hence, a second goal of this project is to increase our understanding of subliminal perception using completely controlled visual stimuli never available thus far. Subliminal perception occurs whenever stimulus presented below the threshold for conscious perception or awareness are found to influence thoughts, feelings, or actions. The possibility of controlling the time of presentation to the nanoseconds scale or sending a controlled number of photons to test neural mechanisms involved in photopic and scotopic vision and therefore the magnocellular and parvocellular pathways might certainly contribute to our understanding of the visual system in humans. Combining these experiments with recordings of the electrical activity of the brain (EEG) and its subsequent analysis in the time, frequency and combined time-frequency domain can certainly shed light on the complex mechanisms involved in conscious visual perception. Determining the generators of the measured activity could further improve our knowledge about the human visual system in the regime of weak intensities. A recent interest in Neuroscience is the recording of concurrent EEG activity in subjects engaged in cooperative or competitive activities (EEG hyperscanning). By the end of the project we would like to carry out such recordings over the observers participating in the entanglement experience.