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May 17, 2024

The Things That Don’t Belong to You: A Neuroscientific and Quantum Perspective

BY Marc Mathys
In our daily lives, we often navigate a world filled with objects, ideas, and emotions that we perceive as either belonging to us or not. This distinction, though seemingly straightforward, is underpinned by complex neural and quantum processes that shape our understanding of ownership and possession. 
The Neuroscience of Ownership 
From a neuroscientific standpoint, the concept of ownership is deeply embedded in our brain’s structure and function. Several areas are particularly crucial: 
1. Parietal Cortex
This region plays a key role in spatial awareness and the sense of self in relation to objects. When you reach for a cup of coffee, your parietal cortex helps you recognize it as an item you can control and use. 
2. Prefrontal Cortex 
Involved in higher-order thinking and decision-making, the prefrontal cortex helps us understand the rules and social norms surrounding ownership. It’s why we know not to take someone else’s belongings without permission. 
3. Insular Cortex
This area is linked to our emotional responses and the sense of personal significance we attach to objects. The insular cortex helps explain why certain items, like a family heirloom, feel intrinsically “ours” on a deeper, emotional level. 
Quantum Mechanics and the Fluidity of Possession Quantum physics introduces a fascinating layer of complexity to the notion of ownership. At the quantum level, the boundaries between objects and entities blur, challenging our classical understanding of possession. 
1. Wave-Particle Duality
In quantum mechanics, particles like electrons exhibit both particle-like and wave-like properties. This duality suggests that objects are not as solid and discrete as they appear in our macroscopic world. Ownership, then, becomes a fluid concept, dependent on the observer’s interaction with the object. 
2. Entanglement
Quantum entanglement occurs when particles become interconnected in such a way that the state of one instantly influences the state of another, regardless of distance. This phenomenon implies a deep interconnectedness that transcends traditional notions of individual ownership. In a way, everything is part of a larger, interconnected system. 
3.Observer Effect
In quantum physics, the act of observation can alter the state of a particle. This principle can be metaphorically extended to ownership—our perception and intention can influence our sense of possession. What we consider “ours” is not just about physical control but also about cognitive and perceptual engagement. 
The Intersection
 Neuroscience Meets Quantum Mechanics When we combine insights from neuroscience and quantum physics, we begin to see ownership not as a fixed state but as a dynamic interplay between our brain, our environment, and the fundamental nature of reality. 
Cognitive Ownership
 Our brains are wired to perceive and establish ownership, but this perception is inherently subjective and influenced by social, emotional, and cognitive factors. Quantum Fluidity
At a fundamental level, the universe operates on principles that defy rigid distinctions. Ownership, like the particles in quantum systems, is fluid and interconnected.
Practical Implications 
Understanding the neuroscience and quantum principles behind ownership can have profound implications:
 

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Hello I’m Marc the creator of the Reset-it program and a TedX speaker.

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