Autogenic Discharge:
Quantum Biological Considerations©

Autogenic discharge phenomena have been looked upon as biologically determined homeostatic mechanisms needed to reduce functionally disturbing neuronal material by self-regulatory processing. The selection mechanism which orchestrates the pattern of neuronal impulses governing autogenic discharge activity and the mechanism which selects groups of neurons for synchronization in the genesis and auto-regulation of the EEG have both been theorized to be subcortical processes (1, 2). The body of clinical observations, experimental findings, and theoretical perspectives upon which these theories of subcortical localization are based include a considerable range of neurological literature. The concepts of subcortical “scanning” of the cortex, a subcortical pacemaker in EEG genesis, and a subcortical mechanism for orchestrating the dynamics of autogenic abreaction processes have evolved over the past three or four decades.

W. B. Cannonís (3) description of the stress reaction as a neurohumorally-mediated diencephalic function of the autonomic nervous system (flight or fight reaction) set the stage for W. R. Hessís (4) distinction between the ergotropic (sympathetic) and trophotropic (parasympathetic) responses. Possible conflictual patterns of activation and function between the thalamic and cortical levels of brain organization and between the hemispheres were found to be mediated by the reticular activating (5) and centrencephalic integrating systems (6). Likewise, the centrencephalic reticular network was found to control spontaneous electrical rhythms of the cortex (6, p. 198). More recently studies of autorhythmity in the thalamus (2, 7) suggest that the thalamus may be the pacemaker for cortical rhythms. In the context of these perspectives, and on the basis of clinical observations, W. Luthe was led to hypothesize the existence of a “centrencephalic safety-discharge system” for initiating, selecting, directing, and resolving extensive patterns of discharges during the process of autogenic neutralization (1).

stress and temporal ordering
Many questions remain, however, regarding the exact nature of the corticifugal and corticipetal mechanisms mediating functional integration, sequential phrasing, and temporal rhythmic control of the neuronal and neuroglial processes involved in the genesis of the EEG and their alteration during autogenic shift and autogenic abreaction. How, for instance, does a subcortical pacemaker function? How does subcortical scanning of the cortex insure that intermittent synchronization of sequentially chosen groups of neurons will generate an electric rhythmicity representing the instantaneous integrated totality of cortical function? During autogenic shift, how are the pacemaker and scanning mechanisms triggered to alter the alpha rhythm and produce paroxystic phenomena? How does a functional shift in these mechanisms initiate a state of the overall cortical action potential, which constellates an extensive sequential pattern of neuronal discharges, which in turn, (a) appears to be invoked as a total pattern, (b) is directly correlated with an identifiable pattern of stress in the whole organism, and (c) if resisted, in such a manner as to disrupt the constellated pattern of discharge, is associated with the onset of diverse categories of pathology?

In thinking about these questions it may be useful to consider the proposition that many of the regulatory and consciousness functions attributed to the centrencephalic, the reticular activating, and the limbic systems may in actuality be the result of the collective, co-operative aspects of the quantum level of cortico-neuronal and cortico-perineuronal functioning. The questions of control, rhythm pattern, integration, and orchestration involve system functions which exhibit organized collective behavior and which cannot be adequately accounted for on the basis of obvious spatial ordering. The order involved is fundamentally a temporal one, which is to say that small temporal differentials are associated with distinct organizational regimes no less than are spatial shifts.

The biological expression of time is most often associated inferentially with the concept of biological rhythms, giving rise to the Zietgeber (biological clock) concept. The Zietgeber or time giverís functional mechanism for certain organs is related to neuroendocrine discharge. On the intracellular level, the clock appears to be either a property of cell membrane function or the protein manufacturing process (8). To quote a review of Erwin Bunningís classical account, The Physiological Clock: Circadian Rhythms and Biological Chronometry:

Perhaps some general fluid phenomenon such as membrane diffusion holds the master clock. The various organelles of the cell show rhythms: not only mitosis but volume changes, shape changes and many another effect, even in unicellular organisms. And yet the nucleus cannot be the sole clock vault either; enucleated cells of algae can photosynthesize rhythmically for a month under constant conditions. Perhaps the mitochondria, the “powerhouse” organelles that house the complex ATP factories of most cells, hold the main clock too. They are absent in bacteria, and so is the circadian rhythm; in fungi they are complex and the rhythms are usually diverse; in the higher cells the mitochondria are more regular and universal and so is the rhythm. An antibiotic that affects the mitochondria strongly shifts the phase of the cycle.
(9, p. 124).

It is known that certain time/space alterations can markedly alter the timing of the clock (e.g., the jet lag phenomenon). But the idea that time/space interactions might be clinically relevant has not been seriously considered. However, it is necessary to inquire into this aspect of the problem in view of the temporal nature of cooperative self-regulatory processes.

For this reason we believe that the principles of macroscopic quantization (relating to the physics of collective and cooperative phenomena such as superconductivity), in particular the concept of long-range phase correlations, must be an essential ingredient of a dynamical description of autogenic discharge phenomena and governing mechanisms. The basic assumption of this new approach is that temporal ordering is fundamental to the stress syndrome, neurological functioning, and biological adaptive phenomena in general.

The stress reaction as classically defined, “the non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it”, (10) involves much more than the well documented neuroendocrine and autonomic nervous system discharge at the cellular level. The stress reaction along with the coupled mechanisms of lymphocyte memory and immunological identity are related in that both are involved in maintaining psychobiological self-recognition at cellular and organ levels. Introduction of immunologically alien materials into the body elicits the classic stress reaction simultaneously with antigen-antibody interaction. That immunological reactions and memory of prior reactions can be influenced by, and involve interaction with, the autonomic and central nervous systems has received little attention.

The ultimate physiologic role of the immune system is to differentiate native (self) from foreign (non-self) or modified native (altered-self) macromolecules and to eliminate the non-self and altered-self factors. The bodyís antibody (bone marrow-derived B cells) and cellular mediated (thymus-derived T cells) activities provide specificity and memory to the immune system. This specificity is lacking in the stress reaction, the adrenergic response of which is beneficial in preventing overaction. Hence, the clinical use of adrenalin in anaphylaxis, and other immediate hypersensitivity reactions and glucocorticosteriods in less immediate reactions and in immunologically mediated diseases. The perception of and consequent reaction to “stressful situations” resulting in hives and occasionally even angioedema in susceptible individuals is related to the non-specificity of the stress reaction in which even memory images and events are handled as real stimuli. Anything encountered objectively or subjectively affects the organism somatically as well as psychologically to the degree it threatens the homeostasis of perceived self.

Clearly, both the mechanisms mediating the non-specific stress reaction and the specific immunologic defense mechanisms must somehow scan the self/non-self psychological barriers with a continuous rhythm. We therefore hypothesize that the intracellular Zietgeber and the signifier for immunological isolation are correlated mechanisms and equivalent to unique temporal characteristics governing the cellís nuclear and/or mitochondrial DNA (the mechanics of this concept will be discussed more specifically in the next section). Within this context stress becomes any factor that disturbs the fundamental temporal characteristics of the cellular DNA. Once the temporal characteristics are altered the cell, cell group, or organ becomes immunologically alien and autoantibodies are formed. Stress release would require the re-establishment of the correct temporal parameters to the cellular DNA. The effects of short-term stress would be mediated by neurohumoral processes, while the long-term effects of the neurohumoral changes induced by prolonged stress would be recorded, initially, in a modified quantum frequency structure of the cellular DNA and, ultimately, with autoantibodies (culminating with anti-DNA antibodies) as degenerative disease attempts to rid the organism of a frequency regime alien to its homeostatic requirements.

coherent waves, superconductivity, and autoregulation
During the past fifteen years there has been a growing quantity of theoretical, experimental, and speculative material published regarding the role of quantum mechanical processes in biological systems. The disruption of electron transport chains has been proposed to be the primary mechanism underlying carcinogenesis (11). It has been suggested that LSD halucogenesis is the result of the donation of electrons from LSD to nervous tissue (12). The quantum mechanical process of stimulated emission of radiation (underlying the onset of coherent light in a laser) has been used to explain the effects of the mantra in transcendental meditation (13). Intermolecular electron transfer by quantum tunneling has been described as mediating the vesicle release mechanism in synaptic and ephaptic transmission (14). It has been suggested that electron tunneling between superconductant microregions of hydrogen-bonded molecules may rate-limit various nerve and growth processes (15, 16). The possibility has been explored that “pockets of non-localized electrons” and long-range phase correlations of electric vibrations in macromolecules, membranes, and other cellular structures may play a role in regulating protein synthesis and cell mitosis (17, 18).

In order to explore how correlated temporal factors may unify the stress reaction, the biological clock, and the immunological response, and how autogenic discharge activity may interact with this unified process, it is necessary to discuss in a general way some of these quantum biological concepts. Paine and Pensinger (19) have proposed a dynamical model of the quantum wave properties of the DNA molecule which treats it as being superconductant. This superconductivity is described as resulting from energy coupling processes which are mediated by a radiation-induced harmonic oscillation of a parcel of non-localized electrons between reference level and critical temperatures. The inverse of the frequency of parcel oscillation is established as a measure of radiation the molecule receives from the environment. As the radiational input varies, the rate of nucleotide bonding changes. These radiation-induced changes in the quantum structure and timing of the stereochemical activity of the molecule are described as being communicated into the DNA environment by coherent waves. The coherency property determines that the energy content of the waves be concentrated into a narrow frequency range (18). Thus, each histological type of DNA molecule would be associated with a unique frequency window.

It is our contention, based upon this model of superconductant DNA, that the fundamental signifier for immunological isolation is the unique frequency window of the coherent waves generated by the DNA molecule. The correlated temporal factor equivalent to the Zietgeber would be the varying, radiation dependent, internal frequency of parcel temperature oscillation which determines the rate of genetic transcription.

These correlated time factors may be instrumental in insuring intracellular functional integration through the action of the DNA-generated coherent waves. We may speculate that the coherent waves exercise a direct “bias” control over the cell membrane potential and hence, play an indirect timing role in ionic diffusion processes by rate-limiting the flow of free electrons in the membraneís active transport system (20). In the context of the quantum biological principles discussed by H. Fröhlich (17, 18), F. W. Cope (15, 16), and B. Chance (21) it is possible that the coherent waves could stabilize (as in Bosè condensation by providing energy exceeding a critical value) some vibratory mode of dipole oscillation of electric waves in the cell which, in turn, would control the variations of membrane potential.

When these principles are applied to neural and perineural cell function, an interesting perspective on autogenic discharge activity emerges. As S. Bogoch has pointed out:

The mechanisms by which organ-specific substances live in immunological isolation side by side in the same organism, and the breakdown of this isolation which leads to “autoimmune disease”, are fascinating and still poorly understood aspects of the handling of immunological information that may have parallels in the compartmentalization of information in the nervous system and its breakdown.
(22, p. 13).

While in some types of somatic cell groups the coherent radiation generated by mitochondrial DNA would communicate the free energy required to drive the superconductant processes of nuclear DNA, in neural processes (given that neuronal nuclear DNA does not replicate) the frequency domain, established by the coherent wave generating activity of the ensemble of neuroglial nuclear DNA molecules, would tie together the neural intracellular timing mechanisms of mitochondrial processes, protein synthesis, and fluctuations of membrane potential into one unified Zietgeber for neurological functions.

autogenic discharge and long-range phase correlation
Neurological compartmentalization may be mediated by the proposed frequency selectivity of intraneuronal mechanisms in relation to an intra- and intercellular radiation exchange process. The continuously changing frequency domain, established by the ensemble of radiating neuroglial DNA molecules, would select synapse groups for discharge by recognition of extremely small temporal differentials. The frequency selective synapses would be triggered for discharge by the macroscopic analogue of stimulated emission (AC Josephson effect) and quantum tunneling which would control the timing of vesicle release (13, 14). The radiation required for the stimulated emission would originate with neuroglial DNA.

To quote L. Domash, “…superconductivity within one neuron could become phase coherent with that in an adjoining cell by virtue of quantum tunneling …” (13, p. 659). This process in conjunction with frequency selectivity could underlie the mechanism for selecting sequential groups of synapses for intermittent synchronization and desynchronization in the genesis of the gross EEG. Which is to say that the EEG may not require a subcortical pacemaker.

Alterations of the EEG, in particular the appearance of paroxystic phenomena, during autogenic shift and autogenic abreaction may relate to fluctuations in the range of coherence established between neurons as a result of the above described quantum biological processes. The appearance of paroxystic phenomena may indicate the movement of the continuously recurring sub-clinical discharges into a clinical level of intensity as the range of neuronal coherence expands with the onset of the autogenic state. The intensity of the discharge would vary with the range of the coherency established while the modality of discharge would vary with the spatial array of the established coherence. It would then appear that autogenic discharge activity may be involved in communicating, maintaining, and constantly re-establishing the correct frequencies underlying the processes of stress release, biological rhythms, and immune response so necessary to the recovery from disease and the maintenance of optimum health.

(Co-authored with Beverly Oliphant and Douglas A. Paine. Presented by William Pensinger to the 6th Congress of the International College of Psychosomatic Medicine, Montreal, Canada, August 1981)


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