The Heart of an Image: Quantum Superposition and Entanglement in Visual Perception

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We analyse the way in which the principle that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ manifests itself with phenomena of visual perception. For this investigation we use insights and techniques coming from quantum cognition, and more specifically we are inspired by the correspondence of this principle with the phenomenon of the conjunction effect in human cognition. We identify entities of meaning within artefacts of visual perception and rely on how such entities are modelled for corpuses of texts such as the webpages of the World-Wide Web for our study of how they appear in phenomena of visual perception. We identify concretely the conjunction effect in visual artefacts and analyse its structure in the example of a photograph. We also analyse quantum entanglement between different aspects of meaning in artefacts of visual perception. We confirm its presence by showing that well elected experiments on images retrieved accordingly by Google Images give rise to probabilities and expectation values violating the Clauser Horne Shimony Holt version of Bell’s inequalities. We point out how this approach can lead to a mathematical description of the meaning content of a visual artefact such as a photograph.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-778
Number of pages22
JournalFoundations of Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Bell’s inequalities
  • Conjunction effect
  • Quantum cognition
  • Quantum entanglement
  • Quantum theory
  • Visual perception


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