The role of coherence in emergent behavior of biological systems

Electromagn Biol Med. 2015;34(2):138-40. doi: 10.3109/15368378.2015.1036069.


In his research activity, Emilio Del Giudice explored the possibility to move towards a unified view of some long-range dynamics in nature, ranging from quantum field theory in physics up to biology. Such a view is adopted in this contribution by discussing a mathematical model for synchronized electrical behavior of pancreatic beta cells. The stochasticity is a fundamental component of the physiological synchronized behavior of this system. On the contrary, in a pathological type I diabetes scenario, the cells are destroyed by the autoimmune system and their coherent behavior is lost. This phenomenology conceptually links to ideas of coherent dynamics in quantum physics. Possible implications both for physical sciences and for the epistemology of life sciences are outlined.

Keywords: Collective dynamics and coherence; electromagnetic interactions in biological systems; long-range interactions; quantum physics.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Science Disciplines*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology*
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Models, Biological
  • Quantum Theory*
  • Stochastic Processes