The Gay Brain? Neuroscientists find evidence that homosexuality is hard-wired

June 17, 2008 at 10:48 pm 16 comments

the gay brain?

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published an interesting article in today’s journal that examines the physical structure of brains in heterosexual and homosexual study participants.

The best summary of the article, PET and MRI show differences in cerebral asymmetry and functional connectivity between homo- and heterosexual subjects, authored by lead researchers Ivanka Savic and Per Linstrom of the Stockholm Brain Institute in Sweden, is provided by Richard Monastersky on the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s News Blog:

Is There a Gay Brain? Imagine Study Finds Anatomical Clues

[Neuroscience researchers] found that the brains of homosexual men and heterosexual women were more symmetrical than the brains of heterosexual men and homosexual women. A similar difference emerged when the researchers looked in particular at the amygdala, a brain region associated with emotional reactions. Heterosexual women and homosexual men had more connections between their right and left amygdala and more connections with other brain regions than did homosexual women and heterosexual men.

Scientists have spent decades looking for brain differences between homosexual and heterosexual people and since the early 1990s have been finding anatomical distinctions in regions associated with sexual behavior. The new study suggests broader brain differences between homosexual and heterosexual men and women, even in regions not linked to sexual attraction.

The BBC article where I first read of this study can be found here.

In 2005, Dr. Savic was the lead researcher on another neuroscientific investigation about the “gay brain.” The title of that article, also published by PNAS, is Brain response to putative phermones in homosexual men.

In this 2005 study, it was discovered — as the title of the article says — that “the brains of homosexual men respond more like those of women when reacting to a chemical derived from the male sex hormone.” [Source]



These two studies lend evidence to the debate over whether sexual orientation is a biologically-determined trait.

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J.R. Atwood

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16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cerebral Asymmetry: is it all in the Mind? « In the Dark  |  November 12, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    […] and sexuality differences in brain structure received widespread press coverage and the odd blog comment. They had analysed a group of 90 volunteers divided into four classes based on gender and sexual […]

  • 2. Way to go Sweden! - Page 5  |  January 23, 2009 at 8:32 pm

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  • 3. Way to go Sweden! - Page 5  |  January 23, 2009 at 9:04 pm

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  • 4. Earls  |  April 3, 2010 at 5:52 pm

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  • 5. Church and Homosexuality - Page 4 - Volconvo Debate Forums  |  September 11, 2010 at 1:04 pm

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  • 6. Allen  |  October 22, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Studies should begin at birth and follow groups as they grow to determine whether there is brain difference from the beginning of life or if the brain takes on differences when homosexuality begins. Otherwise, how can it be determined with absolute assurance that the brain is hard-wired or not?

    • 7. Morgan  |  April 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      A lifetime study is what would be required in order to gain as much information as possible. Anything else simply isn’t a complete picture. We must also include the parents and grandparents nutritional, mental and physcial health as well (the dna chain). For instance, what type of diet (organic or commercial food source..genetically modified/antibiotic/hormone treated/pesticides, etc, vegetarian/vegan, omnivoire, processed and fast foods (asparatame/msg/sugar, etc). Nutritional and herbal supplements. Mental health anxiety/depression/traumas, etc…pharm and other drugs as these change the original brain chemistry. Environmental toxin exposure…heavy metals, etc. Physical health….hormone levels, disease, other pharm and otc drugs, etc. Lifestyle influences…parent type (straight or gay), married/divorced, liberal/conservative/moderate, religious/non-religious. PET scans taken from birth on paying close attention to behavior after age 22 (when the frontal lobe is fully developed – reasoning). Risk…radiation exposure. We would of course have to exclude bi-sexual as this would taint the study. Seems like a huge task to justify a person’s sexual orientation. If you are happy, healthy, mentally stable, kind, respectful and contribute positively to society does it really matter? Do we really want to open pandora’s box fully?

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  • 15.  |  October 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    The Gay Brain? Neuroscientists find evidence that homosexuality is hard-wired | playthink

  • 16. gay brain? | restoringlove  |  March 12, 2015 at 6:41 am

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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

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