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Optical polarization evolution and transmission in multi-Ranvier-node axonal myelin-sheath waveguides

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posted on 2023-04-05, 16:00 authored by Emily Frede, Hadi Zadeh-Haghighi, Christoph Simon
In neuroscience, it is of interest to consider all possible modes of information transfer between neurons in order to fully understand processing in the brain. It has been suggested that photonic communication may be possible along axonal connections, especially through the myelin sheath as a waveguide, due to its high refractive index. There is already a good deal of theoretical and experimental evidence for light guidance in the myelin sheath; however, the question of how the polarization of light is transmitted remains largely unexplored. It is presently unclear whether polarization-encoded information could be preserved within the myelin sheath. We simulate guided mode propagation through a myelinated axon structure with multiple Ranvier nodes. This allows both to observe polarization change and to test the assumption of exponentiated transmission loss through multiple Ranvier nodes for guided light in myelin sheath waveguides. We find that the polarization can be well preserved through multiple nodes and that transmission losses through multiple nodes are approximately multiplicative. These results provide an important context for the hypothesis of neural information transmission facilitated by biophotons, strengthening the possibility of both classical and quantum photonic communication within the brain.



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