Study examines brain differences related to sexual orientation

This post summarizes a new study by Ivanka Savic and Per Lindstrom, titled “PET and MRI show differences in cerebral asymmetry and functional connectivity between homo- and heterosexual subjects” and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. This is being reported widely in the press.

The abstract reads

Cerebral responses to putative pheromones and objects of sexual attraction were recently found to differ between homo- and heterosexual subjects. Although this observation may merely mirror perceptional differences, it raises the intriguing question as to whether certain sexually dimorphic features in the brain may differ between individuals of the same sex but different sexual orientation. We addressed this issue by studying hemispheric asymmetry and functional connectivity, two parameters that in previous publications have shown specific sex differences. Ninety subjects [25 heterosexual men (HeM) and women (HeW), and 20 homosexual men (HoM) and women (HoW)] were investigated with magnetic resonance volumetry of cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres. Fifty of them also participated in PET measurements of cerebral blood flow, used for analyses of functional connections from the right and left amygdalae. HeM and HoW showed a rightward cerebral asymmetry, whereas volumes of the cerebral hemispheres were symmetrical in HoM and HeW. No cerebellar asymmetries were found. Homosexual subjects also showed sex-atypical amygdale connections. In HoM, as in HeW, the connections were more widespread from the left amygdala; in HoW and HeM, on the other hand, from the right amygdala. Furthermore, in HoM and HeW the connections were primarily displayed with the contralateral amygdale and the anterior cingulate, in HeM and HoW with the caudate, putamen, and the prefrontal cortex. The present study shows sex-atypical cerebral asymmetry and functional connections in homosexual subjects. The results cannot be primarily ascribed to learned effects, and they suggest a linkage to neurobiological entities.

Past research has found that male and female brains are different, on average. This research finds that two brain measures differ based on sexual orientation: cerebral symmetry and how the amygdala functions. First, they confirm a previously reported sex differences in cerebral size asymmetry. In straight men, the right hemisphere is greater than the left and in women, they are the same size. Savic and Lindstrom find in contrast that gays are sex-atypical: the hemispheres are the same size in gay men and for lesbians, the right hemisphere is larger than the left. This is not unexpected given the previous differences in verbal skills (favoring gay males over straights) and visuospatial tasks (favoring straight males).

The amygdala is often researched in relation to the role it plays in emotion and anxiety. Recent research indicates that the right amygdala activates in men and the left in women during the processing of emotion. From these locations in the amygdala then connections are made to other regions in brain which again are different in men and women. In women, the connections may be more likely to activate emotion, whereas in men action may be the more likely result. Again, Savic and Lindstrom found sex atypical function for gays and lesbians. Gay men looked like straight women and lesbians looked like straight men, albeit the similarity was less for the lesbians.

What does this mean? The authors are cautious in their discussion and make some points which could support multiple theoretical perspectives. The authors examined aspects of brain functioning not known to be related to sexual behavior or attraction in order to reduce the possibility that sexual experience contributed to the development of the differences. In other words, it is unlikely that being homo or heterosexual caused these differences. The differences likely precede awareness of sexual orientation, according to the authors. I would agree that it seems unlikely that there is anything about sexual fantasy or behavior that could rewire the amygdala or change the size of the right hemisphere.

On the other hand, Savic and Lindstrom are not proposing that these differences cause the sexual orientation differences. Those familiar with Daryl Bem’s exotic becomes erotic theory will see how these brain differences could support his theory. It is plausible that these brain differences are involved in the gender atypical behavior so commonly and strongly associated with the development of adult homosexual orientation. Gender atypical behavior could be an associated feature of a same-sex orientation, a kind of sign of homosexual orientation or in the EBE account, gender atypical behavior and interest could predispose people to sexual regard the same sex as the other sex during pubescence.

Savic and Lindstrom propose three potential mechanisms for these differences. They note:

The mechanisms behind the present observations are unknown. In accordance with discussions about the sexual dimorphism of the brain, three factors have to be taken into account: environmental effects, genetics, and sex hormonal influences.

These are the usual suspects, genes, environment and hormones. Savic and Lindstrom dismiss genetic factors for reasons I cannot quite figure out. They say,

As to the genetic factors, the current view is that they may play a role in male homosexuality, but they seem to be insignificant for female homosexuality. Genetic factors, therefore, appear less probable as the major common denominator for all group differences observed here.

About environment, they observe that sex-based brain differences have been observed at birth and in children. However, cerebral maturation continues through puberty, especially in boys. Thus, social and environmental factors could play a role in how these differences or other differences not assessed here develop in individuals. They are not certain however and note:

However, to attribute such effects to the present results would require a detailed comprehension of how specific environmental factors relate to the four groups investigated, and how they affect various cerebral circuits. In the light of currently available information this can only be speculative.

In other words, we do not know what environmental factors could be influential on brain differentiation for male and female with sex typical and atypical brain structure and function. The authors are either unaware of Bem’s EBE theory or do not see it as relevant to their findings. Clearly, these wanted to rule out the role of sexual behavior and preference as being the driver for the differences between gays and straight that they found in their pheromone studies. Here they believe they have found clear neurological differences which in some manner relate to the differences in sexual preferences.

The authors seem more disposed to hormonal mechanisms. They discuss hormonal factors in animals, but correctly note that the relevance to humans “remains to be clarified.” They conclude:

The present study does not allow narrowing of potential explanations, which are probably multifactorial, including interplay between pre- and postnatal testosterone and estrogen, the androgen and estrogen receptors, and the testosterone-degrading enzyme aromatase. It nevertheless contributes to the ongoing discussion about sexual orientation by showing that homosexual men and women differed from the same-sex controls and showed features of the opposite sex in two mutually independent cerebral variables, which, in contrast to those studied previously, were not related to sexual attraction. The observations cannot be easily attributed to perception or behavior. Whether they may relate to processes laid down during the fetal or postnatal development is an open question.

In a post to come, I want to bring together the Langstrom et al study of Swedish twins and the Savic & Lindstrom study. We have many coming to the conclusion that brain differences confirm innate sexual orientation. However, the study of twins seems to demonstrate a role for a variety of environmental factors which operate differently for different people.

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  • Drowssap

    This is so awesome, I don’t even know where to start.

    it is unlikely that being homo or heterosexual caused these differences. The differences likely precede awareness of sexual orientation, according to the authors.

    I am open to the fact I could be wrong but I doubt increased femininity in males is a susceptability factor for homosexuality. More feminine brain structures, increased left handedness, finger length differences, etc. etc. are all probably a byproduct of whatever triggers homosexuality.

    Also, I’m not leaning towards a prenatal, environmental explanation. If we are talking about environment it almost HAS to be the result of something after a child is born. Identical twins are only about 20% concordent for SSA. The other Swedish study suggests that SSA is about 2/3rds environment. That’s childhood differences, not prenatal differences where nearly everything is the same most of the time.

  • Dave G.

    My observation is that youth tend to live up to (or down to) the expectations of significant persons in their lives. Our culture has drawn the lines between “feminine” and “masculine” characteristics, so certain expectations are imposed on developing youth. The current emphasis on divisions by sexuality (GLBT etc.) has to part of the equation. Surely there are increasing numbers of persons identifying with one of these “orientations” simply because they don’t fit the “masculine” or “feminine” categories closely enough. So if brain structure is more random than fits our definitions of gender, we categorize more “orientations” to include everybody.

    However, sexualizing our natural attractions toward others is another development within pop culture. “Best friends” and “buddies” get pushed into “sex partner” relationship expectations.

  • Michael Bussee

    Is Dave G. gay? I ask because he seems to have little understanding of the actual experience of being gay.

    The GLBT designations are not “divisions”, they are descriptions of the direction of our natural attractions and feelings — just as “heterosexual” is a description of what straights naturally feel.. And gay people don’t get “pushed into sex partner relationship expectations”, they volunteer. (1-2-3-4)

    Would he say that straights sexualize their natural attractions to each other and that they are pushed into it?

  • Drowssap

    Dave G

    “Best friends” and “buddies” get pushed into “sex partner” relationship expectations.

    In many cultures being gay will get you killed and probably in a very unpleasant way. And yet there are gay people everywhere. Where did gay people come from in 1950 with the nuclear family was intact and John Wayne was the nations role model? EVERYONE is strongly pushed towards heterosexuality from day 1.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Experimentation may be driven by pop culture (see this for instance) but I am skeptical that an enduring orientation could be set by it. Drowssap has a very good point I think.

  • Nick R

    I’ll be curious to see how Focus on the Family and Exodus deal with this one. Ah, never mind. They’ll just ignore it since it goes against what they think. Truth doesn’t seem to be a consideration for them. After all, FotF has been caught in blatant lies that they have refused to set straight, like when they said anthropologists support traditional marriage. Honesty is the first casualty of war.

  • Drowssap

    Warren

    Drowssap has a very good point I think.

    Well, I hope it’s not my last… but it might be so I’ll savor the moment. 8-)

    BTW I clicked the link… Oh man, I thought that was a joke at first. I guess I’m an exile from pop culture.

  • Dave G.

    Prepubescent children are attracted to one another, but it’s not sexual nor gender-specific. GLBT is a later categorization.

    Not all 1950′s families were intact, only there were more so. And there were fewer GLBT’s.

    Individuals seeking love and being loved, belonging and sure identity, can gravitate toward any relationships that offer satisfying fulfillment.

  • concerned

    Warren,

    I beg to differ with you, I think pop culture over the past 10-15 years has had a great deal to do with attraction trends and orientation. There may be a predisposition to sensitivity in some individuals that make them more likely to accept these character traits than others. I also believe that is why there are differing levels of attraction found in different individuals and as I have stated before and as the work of Robert Epstein would support the level of fluidity of ones attraction varies from individual to individual. It is for this reason that I am so much against the stereotyping by some on the left who can’t accept that not everyone who experiences same-sex attraction necessarily wants to accept this to mean they are gay. Of course this is all my own opinion and as I have seen in the past that really does not have much value by some, even though the science would support this.

  • Drowssap

    Dave G.

    Individuals seeking love and being loved, belonging and sure identity, can gravitate toward any relationships that offer satisfying fulfillment.

    No doubt that applies to a few people but 2% to 4% of the entire male population? Do gay men strike you as bad looking and unable to meet women? If anything gay men are BETTER looking than straight guys and should have no problem attracting women.

    When I was growing up in the 80s the stereotype was that if a guy was too good looking he was probably gay. I believe research has found a kernel of truth in that assumption.

  • Drowssap

    concerned

    IMHO pop culture has a greater affect on women’s orientation than men only because it appears women are more fluid.

    But it’s been my experience that most guys know exactly what they like at an early age and it changes very little. The attractions I felt as a teenager are the same today, 20+ years later.

  • AM

    Warren,

    A bit curious here: what does your experience tell you with those you have counseled? Are you publishing this entry because you do believe that the scientific findings may indeed be accurate — that orientation is innate for a good number of folks — or are you simply more open minded than Dr. Dobson and Focus, unwilling to state that “no one is born gay”?

    And if so — could or would you share with us sometime (maybe now ;-) what led you to the conclusions you now have which I feel may very well be very different than when you started.

    I don’t peruse blogs as often as many do, so I am a bit perhaps not up to date on where you stand with the biological testings and what that might mean for people of faith.

    Thank you!

  • Evan

    OK. I reread the study and I have a few more points to make about the amygdala differences.

    Because measurements of the resting state functional connectivity are independent of user, perceptive, cognitive, or behavior-related tasks, they lend themselves to studies of more crude potential neurobiological correlates to sex and sexual orientation.

    In the Safron et al. (2007) study we had an event-related measurement of amygdala activation, so the stimuli played a central part in the experiment, showing a marked difference in the way gay and straight men’s amygdala reacted to sexually preferred, sexually non-preferred and neutral images. Overall, gay men’s amygdala reacted more strongly both to men and to women. In other words, their emotional response to preferred images (men) outshot the emotional response of straight men to preferred images (women), but also gay men had a stronger emotional reaction to non-preferred images (women) than the straight counterparts to men.

    Now — in the experiment set up by Savic, we can see measurements of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in the amygdala when the subjects are lying in a resting position and breathing. Without any other stimuli, the amygdalas of homosexual men still show very marked differences in rCBF compared to heterosexual men. I think that settles the question that Safron et al asked whether this region should be studied separately for possible influences on sexual orientation in males. The genetic linkage study should definitely have something related to that, unless it’s caused by hormones or by environmental stress.

    #Hypothesis 1 : A few genes involved in mood disorders should be found on the X chromosome; mutations expressed in the amygdala could account for a greater susceptibility of gay males to stress and early childhood apprehension in front of typically more aggressive boys. (You may laugh, but they were already found in the same-sex oriented drunken fruitflies, and their homologues are already linked to panic and mood disorders in men. Maybe it’s a coincidence…)

    #Hypothesis 2 : The stronger emotional reaction in the amygdala is caused by a failure of another brain region to filter the stimuli out before they get in that area and cause panic. I’m not a professional, but I know there is a connection between the stress system and the brain areas that sustain aggressive behaviour and assertiveness. So whatever causes less aggressiveness also makes people fall back on the stress system. They can’t ride the stimuli punch, nor hit back, so they take the blow. This must explain why gay brains react like straight female brains: they both have in common less aggressiveness. There is no need for brain feminization to get this effect in males, at least not in that area. Lower aggressiveness makes them process emotional stimuli similarly.

    Also: Creative people have low latent inhibition: they have a hard time filtering the stimuli overload, so they deal with it either by organising them in patterns and using them to do creative stuff or by going nuts. The greater number of gay people in the artistic world and in other intellectual areas could point to lower latent inhibition, because of less aggressiveness.

    I’ll come back, when I’ll get the time, to think about possible influences of handedness. This is one interesting piece of research — it brings new correlations, it confirms older ones and opens new avenues for research.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    I maintain that a male who is a Kinsey 0 will not be massively impacted by pop culture’s acceptance of homosexuality. At one time, I thought kids were more influenced in this way but I am not so sure now. I do think kids who are already same-sex attracted can be behaviorally influenced but I am not sure that I think someone without SSA can develop it via a social learning paradigm. Furthermore, even if that was possible, it is hard for me to see how homosexuality looks attractive in the small towns and rural areas where I live. It is very hard to be same-sex attracted in a small town or rural area. None of the families I have worked with in the past several years could support such a view. Now, I do think morality about sexuality can be impacted by urbanicity (Frisch & Hviid’s Danish study comes to mind).

    AM – I am not concerned about where the research goes. I have seen the biological research quality improve a great deal in the past 4 years and it does appear that biology has a role. I am not a reparative drive theory supporter and think that different factors (pre- and post-natal) operate differently for different people – I think there many different pathways to our sexual attraction patterns.

  • Drowssap

    Nick R

    I’ll be curious to see how Focus on the Family and Exodus deal with this one.

    Maybe this:

    John Maynard Keynes

    “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

    Or maybe this:

    Winston Churchill

    “Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.”

    Realistically the two Swedish studies didn’t skewer Narth’s beliefs, they skewered EVERYONE’S beliefs. Both studies discounted genetics & socialization as primary factors.

  • Evan

    Warren,

    Well, I mentioned Freud only for the phrase that could be reconsidered in a different light one day, surely not for the parental effects on development or any other theoretical load.

    I remember once watching a very interesting debate on temperament development and a lady that was an expert in pediatrics and child psychiatry mentioned a case in which a child’s temperamental development was disrupted just because of one accident: a suspended toy falling on the baby. The link to the debate is here (1h:56min.)

    As for aggressive gay men, a possible indirect explanation: there are studies that showed counterintuitively that, on average, imprisoned people are lower on circulating levels of testosterone, so their aggressiveness was due to compensating behaviours. Many instances of aggressiveness are caused by deficits rather than overexpression.

  • Evan

    What homosexual women and heterosexual men have in common: less amygdala activation and greater androgen effects on brain organisation. Therefore, similar rCBF patterns in the Amy. Gay men and straight women have in common less androgen effects on brain, so amygdala patterns should look similar because less aggression in the brain must cause similar sensitivity via less capacity to filter out stimuli. Since the proposed X-linked deficient gene expressed in the amygdala to produce greater sensitivity in gay men cannot be extended to straight women to account for the similarity in stimuli response (it would be silenced), and neither can such mechanism be supposed to play a part in the different similarity between straight men and gay women responses, then hypothesis #1 must be scrapped.

    Looks like it’s headed towards hormones, or whatever can mess with the system that modulates aggressiveness. Including environment and factors that either make the person catch the windows of opportunity to develop sex-typical aggressiveness or miss it. People could experience that at different ages, with different intensities. The GID kids must be the tip of the iceberg here. Some gay adults may not have been atypical during childhood, but somehow got diminishing returns. We may one day return to that Freudian ‘arrested development’ phrase…

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Evan – I was with you until you got to Freud.

    I suspect there are other means to influence amygdala development which have little to do with externally obvious sex typical/atypical behavior. Trauma could be one but I suspect there are others which would not be obvious at all. Aggressive gay men may have a different pathway altogether…

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    Looks like it’s headed towards hormones, or whatever can mess with the system that modulates aggressiveness.

    I believe it could be an infant’s hormones or some force that disrupts these hormones, but how could it be prenatal hormone levels?

    Identical twins are concordant for SSA just 20% of the time. How could the womb environment be so different most of the time?

    I’m not saying it absolutely can’t be prenatal. But if we know that SSA is largely environmental isn’t the safe bet the post-natal environment? That’s where children experience significantly, different variables.

  • Adam Safron

    Evan:

    Interesting hypotheses.

    One correction: homosexual men had less amygdala activation than did heterosexual men for nonpreferred sexual stimuli.

    Graph of evoked activity looked something like this…

    Homo male-stimuli: iiiiiiiiiiiiii

    Homo female-stimuli: iiii

    Hetero male-stimuli: iiiiiiiii

    Hetero female-stimuli: iiiiiiiiiiiii

  • Evan

    Adam Safron,

    Thank you. Great piece of research! Sorry if I misrepresented it.

    I think I misremembered the graph for amygdala activation. I checked right now and I think I mistook the page 5, Figure 1 A, Subjective Liking/Disliking graph, with the one from page 9, Figure 3, presenting brain activation on an average basis.

    Interestingly enough, the differences in activity between categories are not great in magnitude. Heterosexual males seemed to ‘warm up’ more to stimuli discordant for their sexual orientation than homosexual males did. But then, again, homosexual men reacted stronger to preferred stimuli. Actually both heterosexuals and homosexuals reacted more strongly to male stimuli, LOL!

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    I can’t anwer your questions without speculating too much. I recommend you watch the debate on temperament development, moderated by Prof. Donald Pfaff. It touches on many of these questions, and the participating researchers or clinicians address them from many perspectives.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    I can’t anwer your questions without speculating too much.

    To be perfectly honest everything I say is pure speculation. 8-) But I try to make it sensible speculation at least.

    I’ll watch the Pfaff thing Thursday. I loaded it up from your first link but it was over an hour long and it’s bed time for me. Tomorrow I’m in the field all day working. Uggh! But Thursday I’m on it.

    BTW, I look forward to Neil Whitehead’s take on the two new Swedish studies. I think these studies created a seismic shift in the science of SSA.

  • concerned

    Evan,

    Thank you for the link on temperment. It is long so I have not watched all of it yet. The hormonal influence is extremely interesting and when tied in with the trama in earlier childhood I believe it says a lot about why I do not think we will find answers by continuing to focus on genetics. This is something that has been at the route of my own journey away from acting on my same-sex attraction. So much of what they are saying here makes so much sense and confirms much of what I have discovered for myself and have seen in others who begin to take responsibility for their lives. It is not an easy journey but it has been well worth it. The biggest part for me most of my adult life has been a lack of a sense of belonging. Now that has improved and I am feeling more connected with humans and no longer need my old ways of relating to people. It has been a combination of understanding the true science and returning to my religious routes and understanding how the two are not opposed to each other but simply look at the same questions in differing ways.

    Once again thank you.

  • Evan

    Concerned,

    You’re welcome.

    I am of the same opinion as you, that actually science will lead people to a sort of halt, an open window they will finally reach, look through and exclaim: Oh-my-God! :D

  • concerned

    Evan,

    Nicely put!

  • Drowssap

    Concerned

    I believe it says a lot about why I do not think we will find answers by continuing to focus on genetics.

    Forget about homosexuality. Pretend we are talking about any common, worldwide phenomenon that significantly reduced the chances men would have offspring. It doesn’t matter the reason. Genes are the last place we would expect to find a definitive cause. It’s no surprise to anyone who has read even a paragraph on evolution that genes didn’t pan out as a prime mover.

  • Drowssap

    Concerned

    Uh… I just re-read my message and maybe I came across harsh. That was supposed to be read in a light hearted manner. I was agreeing with you. 8-)

  • Patrick

    I am of the same opinion as you, that actually science will lead people to a sort of halt, an open window they will finally reach, look through and exclaim: Oh-my-God!

    I wasn’t aware that science became the new god :)

    As someone who actually works in the scientific field (Toxicology), I recognize science for what is it is – another human endeavour that is subject to the same limitations and failings that all human projects are.

  • Evan

    Patrick,

    It’s a long story. It’s about how people relate to veracity in each epoch. In very simple words, the Ancient Greeks used to relate to things (‘ta onta‘) and to becoming (‘phusis‘) in many ways, that included gods, myths and mastery of things by ‘art’ or what we call today technics. In our times these things have become split, although they unconsciously relate to the same thing. Former mainstream religious beliefs have survived in institutionalised forms but they sometimes are regarded as conservative because science that was banned from the realms of belief came back with a vengeance, building on facts and experiments (you may compare them with a layman’s circus, because they prove reality in front of anyone, but also with illusionism, because they can craftly use facts to give you an impression of truth). I think science is blindly looking for God, for what it cannot explain, but it’s too early to say. 8)

    Now back to the amygdala and brain assymetry stuff.

  • concerned

    Drowssap,

    No offense taken as I agree and have felt this to be so for some time now. There are more important external factor that must be looked at and have been ignored because of the effort to prove a genetic link. The genetics play a role, but not unlike cancer, the environment is likely what is triggering the ultimate outcome. I suspect that stress and oxytocin, or a lack of it, is a major factor is this triggering.

  • Evan

    Here are a few more thoughts on this study:

    If you look at the volumetric values for both cerebral hemispheres, you see the pattern of asymmetry is not the same in magnitude for heterosexual men (HeM) and homosexual women (HoW). Also, the standard deviations for homosexual men (HoM) are greater than the standard deviations for HeM. It means the spread was larger for HoM, in fact it was the largest spread. I want to see the degree of overlap between the HoM and HeM groups. The spread for each category could overlap with the spread of volumetric values of other categories of orientation (although each category is positioned extremely on the Kinsey scale!). Some HeMs could overlap with some HoMs which could overlap with some HeWs which could overlap with some HoWs. For the right hemisphere, it should look something like this:

    HeM_________

    __HoM_______

    _____HeW____

    ________HoW_

    I think we can find some significance beyond similarity in asymmetry between HeM and HoW. The absolute values of hemispheric volumes could also be significant. Assume homosexual women have androgenised brains. They also have the smallest mean value of all categories in hemispheric volume. One might have thought they should be closer to homosexual men and above heterosexual women in tendency. But they’re not. Researchers do not explain that, which could confound their findings. Surely, homosexual women’s asymmetry is a lot smaller in magnitude than heterosexual men’s.

    Some questions:

    Does having greater volume in areas that manage spatial orientation influence how stimuli are filtered before emotions/actions are felt/projected? If it’s true, then greater overall hemispheric size is not as important as relative differences between regional sizes, if that influences stimuli processing or projection of conspecifics in someone’s mind.

    This has a potential to match conclusions from LeVay’s 1991 study and the studies that followed. INAH3 dimorphism was found in size differences between presumed homosexual and heterosexual men. Later studies found the difference was not significant in the neural count, but in volume. The neurons were on average more densely packed in the gay INAH3. It could be a similar situation with the underlying regions in the right hemisphere that create asymmetry in heterosexual men and less asymmetry in homosexual men. But the asymmetry magnitude in homosexual women is a lot smaller than for heterosexual men, which should contribute less to the same orientation effect. To conclude — homosexual women do not have «masculine brains» by absolute hemispheric volume, and the asymmetry tendency is smaller compared to heterosexual men’s asymmetry. This either correlates weakly with attractions or homosexual women’s attractions to women are weaker than heterosexual men’s attractions to women.

    Another hypothesis:

    Relative differences between brain regions produce relative emotional effects by variability in sexual objects. To put it simply, if a heterosexual man sees a bigger attractive man the stimuli are processed differently than if he sees a smaller unattractive woman. If a homosexual man sees a smaller attractive woman or a bigger unattractive man, the effects should be different in gender impression. Or maybe they work in a compound way. Aggressiveness could be an intervening variable that works together with spatial orientation to influence how stimuli are filtered by the emotional brain: impressive but unattractive, attractive but unimpressive, impressive and attractive, and so on. Someone could see an attractive person that might not be impressive enough to spark arousal. Impressionability might depend both on different thresholds set by anatomical and functional relative differences and by variability in the perceived sexual objects.

    ######

    Handedness must also play a very important role in emotional assessment of stimuli. Depending on lateralization of functions in each individual or how they developed separately, emotional response might be different inside each category of orientation. There is a study that shows lateralization can influence emotional assessment of stimuli. Asymmetry in hemispheric volume might have different effects in different sexes, according to handedness. Researchers must put all the facts together in any given individual to predict orientation, because averages might be tricky. If self-reported values for orientation were reflected in brain organisation, then there should be no overlaps between these four categories.

  • Drowssap

    concerned

    The genetics play a role, but not unlike cancer, the environment is likely what is triggering the ultimate outcome.

    Bingo! That’s the equation for virtually every common thing.

    I suspect that stress and oxytocin, or a lack of it, is a major factor is this triggering.

    I personally think the ball is set in motion by something as lame as a common cold or flu virus during pregnancy or in a very, young child. However I would never discount stress. It might directly lead to SSA or just hose our resistance to what does. Stress is like miniature AIDS, it reduces the bodies immune system so that other things can kick our butt.

    Side note:

    What if 2% to 4% of the male population had no significant interest in any type of sex for their entire lives? Or what if the same percent of men produced sperm that rarely impregnated women? If anybody suggested these traits were spread around the world through genes scientists would laugh at them.

    Sure there are probably dozens of susceptability genes but a true “gay gene” is hokum. Studies prove this over and over again.

  • jayhuck

    You don’t think a bug is any more laughable a situation, Drowssap? The bug would have to be present in nearly all countries affecting the each population in about exactly the same way – what are the chances of THAT happening?

    How many times do we have to repeat ourselves that no one on here believes in ONE gay gene. No behavior – NONE – is likely to be driven by ONE gene – each behavior is influenced by a group of genes interacting with their environment.

    LOL – This study proves, maybe for the first, time, that homosexuality is hardwired in the brain, even before birth.

  • jayhuck

    Concerned and Drowssap -

    Not all cancers are driven primarily by the environment – there are small percentages of some cancers that are actually driven by genetics – by this I mean genes play a stronger role it seems than does the environment

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    jayhuck – the study does not demonstrate homosexuality is hardwired into the brain before birth.

    It could be a step toward such a finding but even the authors do not go that far with this work.

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    For someone who claims not to have a good grasp of the English language, you definitely type as if you do.

    Someone could see an attractive person that might not be impressive enough to spark arousal. Impressionability might depend both on different thresholds set by anatomical and functional relative differences and by variability in the perceived sexual objects.

    Isn’t is possible to recognize something as attractive and impressive without attaching any arousal to it? Women seem to do that all the time. Men don’t do it as much in this country, but can be seen doing it in others.

  • jayhuck

    Warren,

    This is a quote from the New Scientist:

    ” The scans reveal that in gay people, key structures of the brain governing emotion, mood, anxiety and aggressiveness resemble those in straight people of the opposite sex.

    But until now, the question has remained as to what came first, the orientation or the brain development.

    To get round this, Savic and her colleague, Per Lindström, chose to measure brain parameters likely to have been fixed at birth.

    “That was the whole point of the study, to show parameters that differ, but which couldn’t be altered by learning or cognitive processes,” says Savic.”

  • jayhuck

    My apologies if I overstated the results, but this quote is still powerful, and definitely adds to the body of knowledge that points to a hardwiring of homosexuality

    ““That was the whole point of the study, to show parameters that differ, but which couldn’t be altered by learning or cognitive processes,” says Savic.””

    My apologies, too, because the above quote has a few pieces taken from BTB :)

  • Evan

    LOL, the software ate some mathematic symbols.

    I meant: “Hormones” is the necessary and sufficient condition for “Aggressiveness”.

    Test:

  • jayhuck

    An by “above quote”, I am referring to post 108702 :)

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    There are some studies with humans that have shown that aggression can be associated with lower IQs as well – proving once again that humans tend to be a bit more complex than the rest of the animal kingdom in many ways, which makes it difficult and messy to make direct connections between other animal studies and humans. Hormones are definitely not the only thing affecting aggression and I wonder if maybe, at times anyway, we are talking about assertiveness – which isn’t the same thing

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    For someone who claims not to have a good grasp of the English language, you definitely type as if you do.

    I used to write most of the stuff for my job in English (it was mostly on political and economic problems). But I still think it’s not as good as you think. Maybe it’s more technical. I’ve seen people from the office writing better than me. But thanks for the encouragement.

  • jayhuck

    You are welcome Evan ;)

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    Aggressiveness can be expressed in all our actions: writing, eating, opening beer bottles, breaking wood logs, dancing, playing soccer, even in choice of clothes or possessions that represent a more or less aggressive type of person. It’s probably the most pervasive basic dimension of animal being, that’s why it’s so strongly correlated with another critical behaviour: sex and reproduction. Aggressive behaviour that is socially disruptive or produces self-harm is a different problem, caused by other factors that fail to keep it in check (like disregulation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex).

  • Dan

    I don’t believe that the gay lifestyle is a good one, but still I’ve long felt that there were some in-built predispositional tendencies (whether genetic or hormonal)–but that these tendencies are not DETERMINATIVE (this is an important concept).

    Think about it: How likely is it that the strong, silent type of man is likely to be gay? We tend to think of gay men as being very talkative, conversational, free and comfortable discussing their feelings, etc. If such personality characteristics are in-built and do not arise entirely from environment, then one can see that it may be that certain preconditions are necessary for a person to experience same-sex attractions. Still, necessary does not equate to determinative.

    An analogy: It may be that only countries with a lot of conformity could ever “support” a dictator like Hitler. Conversely, an extremely individualisitic country such as the U.S. arguably might never unite around one dictator. Still, this doesn’t mean that all countries which stress conformity will be ruled one day by a Hitler-like figure.

    I’ve had same-sex attractions. When I was in my early twenties they were especially strong. As I’ve aged I seem to be less attracted to men. And though I don’t “rubberneck” at women passing by, I can be attracted to their bodies with some focusing (no, not even an extreme amount). I notice that my level of same-sex attraction changes by the day. When I feel good about myself (masculine-wise), I’m not as attracted to men. When I feel that I’m not masculine and when I’m around someone who is, I start out feeling lousy about myself and end (because of how “unimportant” I feel I look in comparison) and then I sometimes end up feeling sexual feelings of attraction.

    In general I never feel attracted to a man I feel looks less masculine than I do.

    I am not the strong, silent type of person. I’m more talkative and “in-touch” with my emotions. My brother is extremely heterosexual. He’s absolutely the opposite. Cold. Not sensitive. Not as caring about what other people think of him. I think he could also have a propensity toward aggressiveness and possessiveness in relationships, though because he was raised well he has never hit a woman, etc. (though he has treated them poorly before).

    He needs to grow and learn and become something better than he is now, and so do I. We each have our weak spots.

    For me, the thought of pairing up socially with a man is not pleasant. I do have some typical feelings of wanting to be an alpha male type of man (one reason I become so flustered/frustrated/and then attracted around those who seem more alpha-male-ish than I am). Socially, I just don’t think same sex relationships would work at all. This is the situation I find myself in. That’s life.

    The dream that some homosexuals have of having as satisfying of a relationship as a good heterosexual relationship is just a dream–a fantasy. I hope too many people with same-sex attraction don’t learn this after too many years walking down a dead-end street.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    Isn’t is possible to recognize something as attractive and impressive without attaching any arousal to it? Women seem to do that all the time. Men don’t do it as much in this country, but can be seen doing it in others.

    Women take a longer time to get into arousal. Men have a more prompt response to what is attractive (has all the good features) and impressive (provides some emotional relief that titillates one’s fantasising and arousal). But it was just a way of saying that “attraction” and “attractive” are simple words that name something that is more layered than we think. It’s not enough that the person be attractive — this can probably be noticed by anyone equally. It’s something else that creates that emotional protuberance that sparks arousal. My conjecture was that it must have to do both with spatial orientation and aggressiveness and how they filter visual stimuli to influence social recognition and project the ensuing reactions.

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    You don’t think a bug is any more laughable a situation, Drowssap?

    In one sense I see what you mean. How the heck could a bug be pretty much everywhere and why should we even guess that it might impact the brain?

    Unfortunately herpes, rhino virus, flu virus and a thousand other things exist in every human community.

    And there are NUMEROUS examples of these pathogens affecting human perception and behavior.

    Example:

    Flu virus causes roughly 20% of Schizophrnenia and Schiz impacts around 1% of the world population. OUCH!

    So unforunately for all uf us, common germs can change the way we perceive things, and they do it all over the world. Whether you are gay, straight or inbetween you can bet germs have visited your brain and played some mischief with how it works.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    I read in a study that asexuality is around 1% in the population, but it’s probably more

    I remember reading about that and it’s common. You can bet that’s not genetics, it’s environment. 1% of the people with a lifelong disinterest in sex is WAY to common to be genetic.

    Female infertility is more common than 1%, in some communities it’s over 10%. But that’s not genetics, that’s pathogens and in most cases STDs.

  • jayhuck

    Could we possibly dispense with the term “the gay lifestyle”? Its old and means absolutely nothing – there are all kinds of gay people living all different kinds of ways.

    Drowssap – I meant that the chances of a big being in just about every culture and impacting the population in almost exactly the same way as others, is highly unlikely. Ouch

    Evan – I think you are, at times, confusing aggressiveness with being assertive – again, two different things

  • jayhuck

    big = bug :)

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    “My conjecture was that it must have to do both with spatial orientation and aggressiveness and how they filter visual stimuli to influence social recognition and project the ensuing reactions.”

    I apologize upfront for the sarcasm, but you mean to say that arousal has something to do with the way people “present themselves” and how we view these people? Astonishing :) :) – I DO understand you were trying to be more specific :)

  • Drowssap

    1% of the people with a lifelong disinterest in sex is WAY to common to be genetic.

    Let me rephrase that, 1% of MEN with a lifelong disinterest in sex is WAY to common to be genetic. Women don’t need a strong sex drive to get pregnant once a year. Men however won’t be competitive without a strong sex drive. Any common genes that gave men a low sex drive were bushwhacked by natural selection a long time ago.

    Example:

    If a young man goes to a doctor and mentions he has a low sex drive the doctor will immediately assume something is wrong.

  • Drowssap

    Jayhuck

    I meant that the chances of a big being in just about every culture and impacting the population in almost exactly the same way as others, is highly unlikely.

    I must admit that is one weakness in the theory. It’s not a deal killer because certain things DO work the same in people everywhere. However, you are right. It’s certainly curious.

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    My main point about aggression is that you cannot look at aggression in other species of animals and directly make comparisons of that to humans. There ARE things we can learn about ourselves from watching the aggressiveness of other species, but its most definitely not the whole, or most of the, story when it comes to people.

  • jayhuck

    You’re right – its not a deal killer, but I’d agree its curious

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    I read the article on PLoS ONE:

    It was one, giant algebra equation. I think they need to find a gene before they suggest it might theoretically exist with a series of equations.

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    “If a young man goes to a doctor and mentions he has a low sex drive the doctor will immediately assume something is wrong.”

    That may be true Drowssap, but to a greater or lesser degree, that involves socialization and stereotypes – it involves expectations that are often taught us.

    Many women do have high sex drives, and many men have low sex drives – some women sleep around, many men don’t. We don’t live in a world where a strong sex-drive in a man is needed anymore. In fact, promiscuity is something frowned on, and even punished, in many cultures – to what degree are we causing a change in that genetic predisposition? I often wonder just how much society can influence and shape our genome.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    Sex difference in brain size has been shown to be present at birth (48), and some volumetric data suggest that sex differences in hemispheric asymmetry exist already in the human fetus (49, 50), although other studies failed to detect them (51, 52). Adult patterns of cerebral asymmetry (53), as well some features of regional sexual dimorphism, are detected already in children (54). Cerebral maturation continues after puberty, especially in boys (31), providing a substrate for effects of social/environmental factors. However, to attribute such effects to the present results would require a detailed comprehension of how specific environmental factors relate to the four groups investigated, and how they affect various cerebral circuits. In the light of currently available information this can only be speculative. Of note is that at variance with previous studies in homosexual subjects the present data were not directly dependent on perception or behavior. Thus, although repetitive sex- (or sexual orientation-) specific preferred strategies may, theoretically, have inf luenced the results, such systematic effects have, to the best of our knowledge, not been reported, and seem unlikely.

    The conclusion is more balanced and cautious than “yep, it’s hardwired”. Some detected asymmetry at birth, some didn’t. Then they emphasise the effects of maturation and environment. They also left the door open for possible orientation-specific effects.

    They also mention that the same male asymmetry effect that was observed in model animals is “established, in part, by early androgen exposure.” So, as I said, it must be hormones, but it seems it’s not all of it.

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    It definitely is more balanced and cautious – and cannot state unequivocally that it is hardwired, but it adds to an ever-increasing and impressive body of knowledge that points to the fact that part of sexuality, perhaps even a large part, is definitely hard-wired. The distinctions in brain symmetry alone are incredibly interesting. The studies authors were smart enough as well to narrow down those aspects of the brain likely “to have been fixed at birth” – And hormones are made by genes. Which brings us back to genetics.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    My main point about aggression is that you cannot look at aggression in other species of animals and directly make comparisons of that to humans. There ARE things we can learn about ourselves from watching the aggressiveness of other species, but its most definitely not the whole, or most of the, story when it comes to people.

    You have to decide: if it’s mostly inborn, then it’s not the result of experience or human alterations, therefore it’s animal. Therefore it must have correspondents in nature. Are you arguing for some unique etiology for an animal instinct in humans?

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    I was only speaking to your use of the word aggression and the examples you gave of this attribute in nature – nothing more :)

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    Many women do have high sex drives, and many men have low sex drives – some women sleep around, many men don’t.

    For sure. There is a whole range of expected behaviors and a HUGE overlap. It only become interesting when somebody has a lifelong low or no interest. Or maybe on the other side hyper interest in sex.

    Actually, even that’s not super interesting because genes could be responsible for just about anything in small numbers. It’s really only scientifically interesting when you find LARGE numbers of people with no sex drive or hyper sex drive or whatever. If 1% of a population had no interest in sex that’s pretty darned interesting.

  • jayhuck

    It only become interesting when somebody has a lifelong low or no interest. Or maybe on the other side hyper interest in sex.

    I agree

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    I think you are, at times, confusing aggressiveness with being assertive – again, two different things

    Nope. Assertiveness is a trait. Less assertive people can learn assertive skills but they can’t become more aggressive because of that.

  • jayhuck

    Absolutely Evan :) But its easy to confuse the two, and is often done.

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    My issue with your use of the term began with this quote:

    Aggressiveness can be expressed in all our actions: writing, eating, opening beer bottles, breaking wood logs, dancing, playing soccer, even in choice of clothes or possessions that represent a more or less aggressive type of person.

    That’s not completely true – several of these things could simply be due to assertiveness, NOT aggression :) That was my only point. :)

  • jayhuck

    I see the possibility of assertiveness being expressed in some of these instances more than I do aggression

  • Ann

    It’s not enough that the person be attractive — this can probably be noticed by anyone equally. It’s something else that creates that emotional protuberance that sparks arousal.

    Yes, and this is as personal and mysterious as anything can get – I can only relate it to curiosity of that which we don’t understand or that which we find different.

  • jayhuck

    Ann,

    There’s a great deal to be said for mystery ;)

  • Ann

    Isn’t is possible to recognize something as attractive and impressive without attaching any arousal to it? Women seem to do that all the time

    I think women just have a better way of composing and disciplining themselves to those people we find attractive and the thoughts we attach to it.

  • jayhuck

    Ann,

    I think, in many ways, women, at least in this country, are just more mature at times when it comes to this issue :)

  • Ann

    There’s a great deal to be said for mystery

    Jayhuck,

    Unless it is detrimental, I don’t want to figure it out -

  • Ann

    I think, in many ways, women, at least in this country, are just more mature at times when it comes to this issue

    Well, yes, I would definitely have to agree with you. I see a distinct difference between genders on this issue and how it is handled.

  • jayhuck

    Gay marriages started in California today, didn’t they? I’ve been so busy I had forgotten today was the day.

  • Ann

    Gay marriages started in California today, didn’t they? I’ve been so busy I had forgotten today was the day.

    Today was the official day – they started granting licenses yesterday after 5p.m.

  • concerned

    I completed the You Tube discussion (very long, very informative) and no longer doubt that what I have been experience in my life over the past 4-5 years with regards to change is real. This discussion was very helpful and I now feel I can move forward in peace and be extremely grateful for my religious upbringiing for helping me stay on this path long enough to truly experience the truth.

  • Michael Bussee

    Dave G said: “Prepubescent children are attracted to one another, but it’s not sexual nor gender-specific.”

    Again, where does Dave G. come up with this stuff? My homosexual attractions were there as early as first grade and they were definitely sexual and gender specific. Dave G.’s theory that gays are “pushed into it” or “want it” or are gay because the “practice” it has little to do with the REALITY of what gays actually experience.

    Is Dave G. Gay? Does he know any gay people? Has he really talked with them and listened to the stories of their lives? Did he get pushed ihnto his orientation? Did he want it?

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    My homosexual attractions were there as early as first grade and they were definitely sexual and gender specific.

    Ok, I think I’ve said this before but I am a stereotypical, nerdy straight gay. I’m curious about this so maybe it’s time to exchange some notes. 8-)

    Many people mention that their “sex attractions” didn’t start until puberty. That was not my experience, and apparently it wasn’t yours either. I knew something was “special” about adult women even before I started kindergarten. I didn’t know what it meant, but pretty adult females made my heart flutter. And when I talked to girls my age it was exciting in a weird way. Of course this was completely at odds with my other feeling that all girls were stupid and evil.

    When I hit puberty those feelings went into overdrive. I remember to this day my first real attraction. A girl that I thought was cute sat across from me in the 8th grade. I think I was 12 years old. One day she leaned over and I saw partially down her shirt. My heart felt like it shot through my neck.

  • Ann

    Ok, I think I’ve said this before but I am a stereotypical, nerdy straight gay

    Drowssap,

    Do you mean “guy”?

  • Michael Bussee

    My first was a kid named Tommy. A real first crush — in first grade. I was attracted to him on all levels. Specifically. Sexually. Lots of the gay men I have talked to report similar feelings. I imagine lots of straights do too.

    It had nothibng to do with “wanting” to be gay. I didn’t want it. It had nothing to do with “practicing” it, I didn’t practice it. It had nothing to do with choosing it. It was not a choice. No one would seriously argue that straights are straight because they want to be, choose to be or get that way by “practice”.

    We have to be careful not to force reality to fit our theories and preconceptions. That is why I would strongly encourage Dave G. to really listen to gay people and not just say what he wants to believe about us. Really listen to the experience of being gay.

  • Ann

    Michael,

    When you say “sexually”, did you know about sex at that age or how could you describe what you felt that connected sex with it.

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    Do you mean “guy”?

    SWEET HAYSUS!!!

    Yes I did Ann. I meant GUY! 8-)

  • Michael Bussee

    I don’t know how to answer that. I didn’t know what sex was but the feelings were definitely and specifically sexual — sex didn’t get “connected” with it. Sex was part of the whole.

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    I was attracted to him on all levels. Specifically. Sexually. Lots of the gay men I have talked to report similar feelings.

    I find that interesting. For me it wasn’t sexual. When I looked at women I had no thoughts of actual sex. I didn’t even know what that was until I was much older. Women were just exciting to look at. Girls became truly “sexual” about highschool age.

    It had nothibng to do with “wanting” to be gay. I didn’t want it. It had nothing to do with “practicing” it, I didn’t practice it. It had nothing to do with choosing it. It was not a choice.

    I have no doubt you are 100% correct on that. I didn’t pick “straightness” straightness picked me. In fact when I grew up in the 80s I didn’t believe people could be anything BUT straight. When it’s the only thing you ever knew and all the gay people are in the closet you can’t believe it’s actually out there. I was probably in college before I realized there really were gay people in the world and they were genuinely put together different. Even then I thought it must have something to do with personality, not biology. One of my friends told me that all gay people were molested as kids and I halfway believed that for a long time. It wasn’t until maybe 5 years ago I started to believe it was significantly biological.

  • Ann

    Drowssap,

    It seems that whatever it was or whenever it was, or whoever we connected it with, our first “feeling” of a crush or sexual stimulation or attraction have been deeply personal. This is why I think we need to also look at and respect the individual story rather than the collective ones. Some people connect early observations of smell to who sparked their interest. Why are some people physically attracted to only those of a particular race or foreign culture than their own? Does that start at an early age? Whatever it is, it obviously was something that made us feel good and we wanted to experience more of it. What made us feel good could also have a lot to do with our circumstances at the time. A little girl could feel great comfort being around another girl and that could develop into a dependence. I think it was Concerned who wisely said – for some, SSA can provide a welcomed distraction to otherwise stressful situations the child or adult is feeling. When the realizaion of shame takes hold, through limited level of understanding, a child is going to keep all this to themselves and IMHO, this can, and of itself, manifest into a perception and perspective of themselves that might or might not be true if they could have caring and loving intervention from a parent. The term “arrested development” is interesting if those first feelings stay with us as a guiding force and determine, consiously or subconsciously, the direction we go in.

  • Michael Bussee

    Drowssap: I am trying not to get too graphic here, but I was attracted to and fascinated by the specifics and totality of male antatomy. I had no such attraction or fascination towards women — quite the opposite. That has remained constant throughout my life. At age six, the urges and feelings were definitely sexual.

    I didn’t understand what adult sex was or even what “sex” was — but I knew what excited me, what attracted my attention, what I wanted to experience. And no, I was never molested. These sexual feelings emerged in my awareness just I I imagine they must for straight people.

  • Ann

    I knew what excited me, what attracted my attention, what I wanted to experience

    I was attracted to and fascinated by the specifics and totality of male antatomy

    Michael,

    Was there any emotional connection you felt to him or was it just the anatomy that attracted you to him and desired to experience? Do you remember why him and not another little boy?

  • Evan

    Michael,

    Your personal story is very interesting. I gather that when you were attracted to boys they were not your playmates at that time.

    I remember that was the case for me in kindergarten. My mind was captivated by two girls: one was a brunette lively girl named Lydia, the other was a shy blonde girl named Gina. I never played with them, I don’t remember why, I was busy doing something else, but they were always in the distance. I was thinking about them even when I was at home. There was also this girl who was one year older than me, whose parents were friends with my parents. Whenever we all met I did not understand why they were making fun of me that I should do something to her. I was a bit ashamed, I think, that they spotted me because I liked her. :)

    When I went to school, the story got more intense. I developed a years-long attraction for a brunette girl. One day we were supposed to be grouped in pairs for doing some outdoors stuff. The teacher paired me with her. I was hardly focusing on doing anything else but holding her hand. My heart was pounding like I was flying an helicopter by myself for the first time, hundreds of metres above a cascade. When I went home, I was looking at my hand and couldn’t believe it. OK, I admit it, I couldn’t wash my right hand for one day.

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    This is why I think we need to also look at and respect the individual story rather than the collective ones…

    for some, SSA can provide a welcomed distraction to otherwise stressful situations the child or adult is feeling.

    I think you are correct. Socialization or a unique set of social circumstances could certainly turn and otherwise straight person gay. How many people fall into this category is the $2 question. I don’t think this is a LOT of people but it’s some for sure.

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    but I was attracted to and fascinated by the specifics and totality of male antatomy

    In my specific case it was always the general curviness of a woman’s body and the attractiveness of her face.

    I had no such attraction or fascination towards women — quite the opposite

    I was chatting in another “humor” blog about a year ago and I posted a picture of a particularly natural, attractive bikini model and asked if any gay men found her attractive. This girl is so gorgeous that any straight guy would melt in her presence. Predictably every gay man who responded said they felt nothing at all, ZERO!

    I know it sounds crazy but straight guys brains aren’t organized to comprehend this. I think that’s one of the reasons that for so many years straight guys thought that gay guys could just, “go straight.”

    “You see the same beautiful girl that I do and obviously you are attracted to her too, right?” (baffled questiong look)

    And then there is the other side of the coin, hehe. When we see photos of half naked men that have sexually suggestive expressions on their faces it makes us want to squirt bleach in our eyes. 8-) I don’t think that response is entirely learned. The feeling is so instant and bad that all guys find it humerous when it happens to another guy. When I go to Boxturtle and those banner ads are up I try to squint my eyes so I don’t have to see them. 8-)

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    Without saying the country you that live can you mention the region?

    West, East, South?

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    I was born in a country from the Eastern part of Europe and grew up there during the Communist era. After that I moved to the Western part of Europe and lived and worked in a couple of countries there. Now I’m back in my country, but will probably have to leave again, because of my job.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    Eastern Europe cool. I read the other day that during WW2 a large number of German soldiers stationed in Poland deserted rather than be shipped out of the country because the women were so attractive. 8-)

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    Man, Polish and Czechish women are incredibly beautiful! Hungarian ones too. :)

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    Polish and Czechish women are incredibly beautiful! Hungarian ones too.

    I’m happily married for 13 years but if anything happens to my wife I’m going to get a mail-order bride from over there. 8-)

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    I don’t know, man. I’ve seen a few Philippinas that could change your mind.

    I guess that’s why exotic becomes erotic. ;)

  • Ann

    Evan and Drowssap,

    I think the Beach Boys had it right when they said said where the prettiest girls in the world were :-)

    Ok, back on topic – regarding this study, what is going to be done with these findings? While they are interesting and can certainly lead to other findings, what and where does that take human behavior, especially for those who want to following the teachings of their faith?

  • Evan

    I was thinking about what could cause attractions so early in life, but it doesn’t seem to be the EBE story completely.

    For example:

    When I grew up, the boys were not divided in typically aggressive and atypically aggressive groups (or boys who mainly played with girls). There were very few who were unusually aggressive and were seen as bullies or problem children, but the rest gravitated in the general middle. The play activities were mostly gender-specific because we liked to play soccer (European football) and other football games, but it was not unusual to sometimes organise mixed games. But during kindergarten or early school each boy would have probably felt awkward playing with a girl, because we did not know much about what girls did or liked. They were from another planet, but I don’t know what made us think that way, because some of us got sisters. There was never any pressure from anyone to only play in gender groups or to marginalise some kid because he/she was atypical. I don’t remember that. I’ve never seen one case like that during childhood. There were a few kids who were priviledged, because their parents were better off, and they rarely played with us, but that was all.

    That’s why I think there is something important missing from Daryl Bem’s theory, something like a very basic construct that is both determined by brain configuration and early interaction. It’s not restricted to aggressiveness or temperamental dimensions, although it must be influenced by them. There must be an inner body image that is constantly adjusted according to those factors and the interaction with the environment. So when a child interacts with others, according to his rhythm, he also adjusts these inner body representations of himself and others. Maybe these internal body images are also determined by the hormonised brain, so the children identify with others or interact with them based on how these particular maps are projected with the associated feelings and sensations.

    This is the only way that we can theoretically resolve the temporally different dynamics of development that lead to similar results. It does not seem to simply reduce to aggressiveness-plus-temperamental-factors and socialisation patterns, because these are not strongly polarised inside gender categories, but rather uniformly distributed. We’re not talking about little hormonal-genetic robots that followed a pre-determined path. Generalisable factors must combine with an inner construct that evolves under their influence but also according to a personal tangle of experiences.

    That’s why I think we now are in the middle of a deterministic scientific fashion, that aims to narrow down the search to mechanistic models of sexual orientation, but after this period will be consumed, we will probably return to experiential factors and how they combine with predispositions to develop an individual brain map of genders and to work with it in everyday life interactions. That brain map containing the gendered representations of bodies must have been shaped by past predispositions and past experiences and put to work by present levels of aggressiveness and temperamental dimensions stemming from fluctuating genetic expressions.

    I call that Hypothesis No 3.

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    regarding this study, what is going to be done with these findings?

    The findings of these two studies will have a HUGE impact going forward.

    SSA appears to be strongly environmental… but not SOCIALIZATION!

    That’s not exactly how many Conservative Christians thought this would end up. But it’s also not that far off because it still comes down to environment. A good number of environmental possibilities (but not all) are things that go wrong. If something is going wrong we should know. On the flip side if SSA is the result of something working just fine we should know that too.

    Conservative Christians have endless supplies of money, motivation and brainpower. They could put together more research dollars in 1 week than the entire sum of money ever spent on SSA. Christians could readily take charge of this situation and become key players in solving the mystery of SSA. Every single day I hope they do.

  • Evan

    There’s also another important aspect: this study must not only be replicated, but also duplicated in order to have these patterns confirmed.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Hi Warren!

    My own conclusions, and the evidence that led me to them, is on my blog, the post BiGender and the Brain

  • Evan

    I also want to bring here for debate the findings from another study by Ponseti et al (2007) that ‘Homosexual Women Have Less Grey Matter in Perirhinal Cortex than Heterosexual Women‘. The conclusions from the Savic study should, if valid, factor in those results to reflect the patterns of androgenisation that were found in homosexual women. Relevant quotes:

    The novel finding of the present study is that homosexual women have less [grey matter] GM in the temporo-basal cortex, ventral cerebellum and left ventral premotor cortex compared with heterosexual women. No difference in GM was found between male homo- and heterosexuals. Finally, we were able to replicate previous findings regarding the influence of gender on regional grey matter in the adult human brain. Most of these differences are not influenced by sexual orientation.

    The main morphometric difference between heterosexual and homosexual women was found in the left perirhinal cortex with a relative reduction in GM in homosexual women. This area was also found to be sex-dimorphic, showing a relative reduction in GM in males. This raises the question whether female homosexuality is associated with a sex atypical differentiation of this brain area. The perirhinal cortex is located close to entorhinal cortex, hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus and amygdala, and is known to be involved in a variety of functions like olfactory processing, memory encoding and spatial processing. These functions are related to the processing of sexual stimuli as well.

    The perirhinal cortex is also involved in spatial processing and detection of object identity [35]. Of note, spatial processing was found to be influenced by sexual orientation in females, with homosexual women performing higher than heterosexual women [for review see 36]. Animal research suggests that the perirhinal-entorhinal cortical complex is involved in the identification and spatial localization of social odours which help to distinguish among individual conspecifics [37]. Moreover, the perirhinal-entorhinal cortex was shown to be of relevance to identifying conspecifics in the context of the Coolidge effect in male hamsters [38]. These findings provide converging evidence that the perirhinal-entorhinal cortices help to form neuronal representations of object identity, possibly with links to social bonding and sexual behaviour.

    In the male group, sexual orientation was not associated with regional differences in GM. This indicates that at least at the macroscopic level, the cortex of homosexual men shows no male-to-female shift in GM concentration. Conversely, homosexual women showed in some areas, mostly in the temporo-basal cortex, less GM concentration than heterosexual women, depicting a trend towards a male-like GM pattern. This is of particular interest, because the temporobasal cluster showing a male-like decrease in GM concentration was found in an area that also showed changes related to gender. These findings – a “male-like” GM pattern in homosexual women but no “female-like” pattern in homosexual men – suggest that male and female homosexuality is not analogously manifested at a structural level in the human brain. Accordingly, there was no overall effect of sexual orientation on regional GM when considering women and man together.

    In agreement with numerous studies [1]–[7], the three tissue compartments of the brain were found to be larger at a global level in males than in females. There were no changes in the absolute volume of the brain tissue compartments which were related to the sexual orientation of the participants.

  • Patrick

    That’s not exactly how many Conservative Christians thought this would end up. But it’s also not that far off because it still comes down to environment. A good number of environmental possibilities (but not all) are things that go wrong. If something is going wrong we should know. On the flip side if SSA is the result of something working just fine we should know that too.

    Okay lets say that homosexuality is caused by a microbe – is that an environmental example of something that went wrong or not. One might be tempted to say well of course something went wrong without the microbe they would have ended up straight. But that presupposes that everyone ought to be straight – which is begging the question. One might say well something outside genes had an influence on outcome – but this assumes that the only thing that can be essentially correct about us – is our genetic programming. I don’t think even the most hardened evolutionist is welling to admit that.

    I am curious how exactly you would separate environmental cases of things going wrong – from things going right.

    Also lets be clearer about language – there is something going wrong (with respect to evolutionary biology) and their is something going wrong with respect to normative outcomes (what ought to be). It is easy to slide between the two meanings – when in fact they are really not the same at all. It is entirely possible for something to be an error from a purely evolutionary standpoint but not be an error in the normative sense.

  • Evan

    Patrick,

    I agree with you on the issue of evolutionary error and normative error. I have one qualification about it. Society should not decide what is error if that error remains to a small magnitude. But in any event the infectious hypothesis turns right and the general interest is seriously affected by an increasing number of errors, then science should have had detected that and have developed means to address it.

  • Drowssap

    Patrick

    Okay lets say that homosexuality is caused by a microbe – is that an environmental example of something that went wrong or not.

    You make a good point.

    We have about 10X more microbe cells in our body than human cells. Some are just hitching a ride but we depend on many of them for our very survival.

    I guess it depends on what they find. If microbes sneak into the brain and chew up or disrupt an important cluster of neurons then that’s pretty much something going wrong. However if germs that we depend on are merely doing their job and in some way a strange combo of healthy germs and genes leads to SSA it’s pretty hard to classify that as damage.

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    I am trying not to get too graphic here, but I was attracted to and fascinated by the specifics and totality of male antatomy.

    Ya know I thought about all the guys I’ve known over my life and I think that’s pretty much the same as many if not most straight guys. Most men are very “body part” specific. It probably has something to do with our natural hunter instincts. We like specific things and we go out and get them.

    I’m more of a big picture guy when it comes to attraction. I’m more interested in hip to waste ratio, hair and skin. Then again, I throw like a girl. 8-)

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann asked: “Was there any emotional connection you felt to him or was it just the anatomy that attracted you to him and desired to experience? Do you remember why him and not another little boy?”

    i had all of those feelings — emotional, intellectual, a strong romantic crush, longing, sexual excitement at seeing him fressed or undressed — the same things I feel now towards my partner, Richard.

    I was in love. Any one who has ever fallen in love knows the feeling. What are you attracted to? The whole person. I was attracted to his presence, his maleness, his blue eyes and brown hair, his sense of humor — all of it.

    As to why him and not another boy? Who knows exactly? Love is a great mystery! They just didn’t have “it” — whatever “that” is. Anyway, later in the school year, he dumped me for another boy. My first heartache. I grieved for weeks.

    I have tried throughout the years to understand what straight guys feel. I have bought Playboy and other magazines. I have watched straight porn. I try to feel what they feel, but all I get is “oh, she’s pretty” or “she is well constructed” or “i can see why she fits the stereotype of female beauty” — but no “ZING!!!” I guess that means I’m gay.

  • Michael Bussee

    It’s not just women in magazines or adult films. This also applies to women I see in everyday interactions. I can appreciate their beauty on a strictly aesthetic level, but NO “chemistry”, no involuntary urge to “check them out”, no hunger, no longing, no stirring of heart or loins. Just artistic admiration of their form. Like looking at a living statue. Is that what straight guys feel towards goodlooking men?

    I tell myself — “What I feel towards men must be like what straight guys feel towards women”. I kinda wish I could be straight for a day — just to experience what they feel. What’s it like to be hetero? What causes it? A germ? Soy products? Demons? A choice? Wanting to be straight? Practicing it? Sexualization of non-sexual needs? Trauma? Poor parenting? Any ideas?

  • Mary

    Men who are interested in women (while they may like porn etc…) are more attracted to women for many of the other qualities about women. Not all straight men objectify women in the way that you have Michael. Maybe objectifying others is a problem??

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary: How did I objectify women? I just said I didn[‘t find them sexually attractive – I admire their many other positive qualities and I certainly don’t think of them as “objects”.

    I love their spirit, their physical beauty, their emotional depth, the strength of their faith, their intellect, etc. How is that “objectifying” them? Just because I don’t want them sexually?

    I also don’t see where you get off suggesting that I objectify others. You are really getting under my skin with all your assumptions about me. For example, you have also called into question (in another post) the sincerity and authenticity of my faith, You seem to think you know me pretty well. What’s up?

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    Just artistic admiration of their form. Like looking at a living statue. Is that what straight guys feel towards goodlooking men?

    Well, not really. Like gay men we also have the propensity to view women as beautiful pieces of art. The obvious difference being that we take it a step further.

    Straight guys don’t typically appreciate other good looking men in that way. We may look at Arnold Schwarzenegger and wish we had his biceps but it’s almost like looking at a piece of equipment. We might say, “I wish I had that,” but it’s the same way we wish for a riding lawn mower, new drill or flat screen TV. We would like to have “physically attractive” traits because they are like power tools to achieve higher status or attract more women.

    You’ll never hear a straight guy say how beautiful another guy is unless he’s purposely trying to be funny.

    In a general sense we don’t find ourselves physically attractive. Many guys will joke that we are surprised women find us attractive at all. What crazy woman wants to be on the receiving end of us? 8-)

    Side Note:

    George Takei was on the Stern show a few months ago and they showed him a picture of a beautiful swimsuit model and asked him what he thought. His response reminded me of what you said. She was beautiful and attractive to him and he appreciated her form like a piece of art.

  • Mary

    For the life of me – anyone who thinks looking at playboy is a good test of his/her sexuality has missed the point. Missed the point on sexuality, missed the point on humanity, missed the point on soooo many levels (from a christian perspective) that I am having a difficult time believing that person’s testimony and christian ethic. We all slip and do things we should not – but to propose that this is an acceptable way of forming opinions about oneself , and touting in public about it’s acceptable action is just too out there for me.

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    I tell myself — “What I feel towards men must be like what straight guys feel towards women”. I kinda wish I could be straight for a day — just to experience what they feel.

    I bet it’s the exact same thing as heterosexuality except one difference. Men dress boring, women don’t. Whether they know it or not women dress in ways to flirt with the male mind. Depending on what she is wearing an attractive woman can look sort of like a Christmas present that we want to unwrap.

    Disclaimer:

    I’m a happily married, completely faithful guy who is by the grace of God married to a gorgeous woman. But I suppose every straight guy with a pulse can’t help but notice a good looking woman. 8-)

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    You are such a stereotypical straight guy – comments like “men dress boring” could only be made by a straight guy – or a closeted gay man :) Of course, to your mind, men “dress boring”, but you probably aren’t equipped with the ability to notice to the nuances in men’s clothing, or how erotic they can be – how men can dress to tease women or others of the same sex.

    Granted – women have more options when it comes to clothing, but that by no means men aren’t doing exactly what you claim women do – you just don’t see it :)

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    All I see are tan Dockers and white button shirt. 8-)

  • Michael Bussee

    Wow Mary. Take a chill pill. I didn’t say I was recommending looking at Playboy or porn. I was just a dumb, curious teenager, trying to discover what feelings I had.

    I knew other boys looked at these things and found them exciting. I wanted to look at the pictures to see if I did, too. I did not. That’s all. I didn’t think of it as “a good test”. I wanted to see how I felt. Was I normal? Did everything work? I am not “touting” it or promoting it as “acceptable action”.. Geesh!. You really take some leaps when you decide to ump to conclusions.

    I was just explaining how my awareness of my sexuality unfolded over the years. This looking at “adult material” was during my teen years — before I became a Christian.

    What did I know about “testimonies” or “Christian ethics”? I didn’t even know Jesus. I didn’t know who I was. I really didn’t know squat. I was a confused gay kid trying to find answers. So kindly get off your high moral horse and cut me some slack, eh?

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary: While you seem to feel it is your role to judge the quaility and sincerity of other people’s “testimony” and “ethics,” you might want to jump all over Drowssap for saying that “depending on what she is wearing an attractive woman can look sort of like a Christmas present that we want to unwrap.”

    Sounds like “objectifying” to me! Sounds like he is “touting” mentally undressing women as “acceptable action.” I thought the Bible said that it’s adultery even if a man just does it in his heart, doesn’t it? Where’s your moral indignation towards him? Why not question his faith?

    We were talking about desire here — what direction it takes — where is seems to lead us — where it comes from — how and when we become aware of it. I was just describing my journey. More specifically, I was responding to Ann who was asking about my early awareness of “SSA”.

    I was responding to Dave G, who boldly (and incorrectly) asserted that kids don’t have gender specific sexual feelings. I did. And so have countless other gay men. You just have to put aside your preconceptions and listen to them. I was responding to her, not “touting” anything. That’s all in your head.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    This not a thread about what is or is not proper regarding morals and sexuality. Please no more comments determining what is proper or not in this arena.

    Stick to the thread.

  • Ann

    Dr. Throckmorton,

    How young can a person be to have this kind of examination on their brain?

  • Ann

    It is interesting to watch babies and toddlers and their reaction to seeing something for the first time – I have observed them being completely mesmerized by someone or something that has either comforted or fascinated them. It also seems they have a familiarity when they see it or the person again. I’m wondering how and when a mesmeration can turn into a fixation – is it when there is no other distraction or intervention to guide or move the child from it and onto something or someone else? If a fixation takes hold, in any area of feelings, would this show up in a before and after scan of the brain? Does anyone remember the tv show “The Wonder Years”? It was about young people, a little boy in paticular, who talked about things he observed and felt for the first time and what that meant to him.

  • Ann

    i had all of those feelings — emotional, intellectual, a strong romantic crush, longing, sexual excitement at seeing him fressed or undressed — the same things I feel now towards my partner, Richard.

    Michael,

    Thank you for answering my question – please let me know if I ever ask anything too personal as I always want to respect boundries.

    You were far more advanced in your feelings than I at that age! I don’t think I could even be able to identify or connect those feelings the way you did. I remember many feelings for and about little girls but didn’t become aware of any feelings toward boys until I was about 12.

    When you had that first feeling toward Tommy, were there any other feelings that conflicted with it? Did you feel your feelings were different from others? Were you afraid of how you felt or were you able to even discern that perhaps it was different from most of the other people you had observed. I think we all have feelings that we consider our own and don’t share but did you find your’s so different that you felt you had to hide it and/or be ashamed of it?

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren: I apologize if I have left the thread. It’s just that I don’t appreciate (at all) someone else making judgements about my faith or intent. When I am attacked, I tend to fight back. I wasn’t touting, promoting or justifying my behavior as acceptable.

    I was simply (and honestly) answering Ann’s question about early awareness of sexual feelings — and responding to Dave’s assertion that prebusecent kids don’t have them. That seemed to be “on topic”. Ann’s comments, in my opinion, were not.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann: I will try to answer your questions without raising anyone’s doubts or judgements about the quality of my faith, my actions, my salvation, my intent, etc.

    Attention all: I am just answering Ann’s questions — not promoting, justifying, objectifying or touting anything. And for the record, I love Jesus and trust Him as Lord and Savior. Our relationship is between my Lord and me — and only He (thank God) is judge of that. So here goes:

    “When you had that first feeling toward Tommy, were there any other feelings that conflicted with it?” Sure. Lots of feelings. Admration. Joy in being with him. Physical pleasure. Curiousity. Affection. Some guilt and fear about being caught. Pretty much normal feelings for a kid with a crush, I would guess.

    “Did you feel your feelings were different from others?” Yeah, I was pretty sure they were. The other boys sure made me feel I was different.

    :Were you afraid of how you felt or were you able to even discern that perhaps it was different from most of the other people you had observed?” In a word, yes.

  • Mary

    Understood. I was out of line for expressing my thoughts in such a manner.

  • Ann

    Michael,

    Thank you for these answers – I know I have delved into your personal life and I appreciate the information you have given. I have to go out now but will answer when I come back later – probably with more questions :-)

  • Michael Bussee

    That’s OK, Mary. I do it all the time. We are only human. We react when provoked. Have you noticed that you and I seem to provoke each other a lot? Would be cool if we could meet like Ann and I did. Something about talking face-to-face that clears up a lot of tension and misunderstanding.

    I have done many things in my life that I am not proud of. When I speak of them — my early experiences, my affair with Gary, my divorce, etc. I am not proud. Not “touting”. Quite the opposite. I respect those who have taken a different path. But these painful times, sins and mistakes have shaped me, have deepened my faith and somehow, God has always seen fit to forgive and get me back on track.

  • Michael Bussee

    That’s OK Ann. I am open to answering any question. Being in the closet was very painful. Now, I try to live “open book” and answer all sincere questions as openly as I can. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to have a good memory, right? And Lord knows, at my age my memory ain’t that hot.

    This frankness might give some people the impression that I approve of all my actions and feelings — or that I am suggesting that others make the same mistakes or take my path. I certainly do not.

    It’s just that when I decided to admit (to myself and others) that I had not become straight (that I was not “ex-gay’) I made the decision to be honest fas possible rom that day on. It annoys a lot of people. Hurts some. Overwhelms others. Pleases a few. I would not live any other way.

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    Sounds like “objectifying” to me! Sounds like he is “touting” mentally undressing women as “acceptable action.” I thought the Bible said that it’s adultery even if a man just does it in his heart, doesn’t it? Where’s your moral indignation towards him? Why not question his faith?

    I’m not saying I mentally undress anybody and I’m without a doubt the most boring, faithful guy in the world.

    I’m just saying women can be cute… at least straight guys are programmed to think so. 8-)

    /I must admit this thread has drifted to an alternate universe

  • Mary

    I just don’t like the idea that gays try to get ex gays to objectify other people by asking if we are attracted to naked pictures, or are lustful after others -etc… Seems like a poor way to test one’s sexuality. That’s all. I still hear that from mocking gays. Thought you were just towing the line on that one. My apologies. If I am ever near the Riverside??? California area – I will ask to meet with you.

  • Drowssap

    What I was tryin’ to do was offer an honest, insight into how I (and no doubt many other guys) view the female form. Mike said he wondered how it felt to be straight.

    It was my best effort at “a straight eye for the queer guy”. 8-)

  • Mary

    Understood Drowssap. However, from most of the ex gays I know, having to devle into our sexuality brings forth a very close perspective of what sexuality means from a transoformed view. It is never going to be like that of a man or woman who has never had same sex attraction.

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary: With all due respect, I think people ask “ex-gays” about continuing same sex attractions not to “objectify” the person they are asking, but to make it very clear that these folks are not heterosexual — at least not in the common sense of that word.

    We are not “objectifying”. We are asking for clarity – particularly since EXODUS and NARTH have used language sloppily or decpetively and have made exagerated “overpromises” of complete/radical/sudden change from gay to straight. It’s about truth, not about making people into objects, I accept that gay people can and do “change”. But what is the “change”?

    In my opinion, the deviation from the thread began when Dave G. asserted that we are “all gay if we want to be” and if we “practice it”. He further asserted that prepubescent kids do not have gender specific sexual attractions — and these things are simply NOT TRUE — not supported by the testimony of gay men themselves.

    Then came the questions from Ann about early sexual awareness (which I tried to answer) and questions about the depth and sincerity of my faith. I felt I had to respond to these sincere questions and unfounded assertions.

  • Mary

    MIchael,

    I’m dropping this. We have different opinions.

  • Ann

    Does anyone have any thoughts or answers regarding posts #10969 and #109070, which I believe are still on topic?

  • Evan

    Ann,

    How young can a person be to have this kind of examination on their brain?

    I’ll try to answer your question, according to what research I’ve seen. This is not a settled question, though.

    Newborn babies (or neonates, as scientists call them) can show patterns of cerebral asymmetry as early as the first weeks after birth. There have been a few magnetic resonance imaging studies in neonates which found certain areas were developing faster than others. But the patterns are not the same, some of them contradict the findings of this study, in that the patterns of asymmetry are completely the opposite of what Savic et al found in adults, which throws a shadow of doubt over the robustness of their contention that what they found are inborn patterns.

    Gilmore et al. (2007) found that male neonates had overall greater total brain grey and white matter volumes in the cortex than female babies did (confirms adult patterns), but the hemispheric asymmetry was slanted from left to right (as opposed to known adult pattern). So, some patterns are present at birth, others can develop after birth.

    Other researchers found that brain asymmetries can be attenuated in children with a history of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, compared to controls.

    Another neuroimaging study indicated that there are age-related sex differences in brain maturation. 6–17-years old boys showed significantly greater loss of grey matter volume and an increase in both white matter and corpus callosum area compared with girls. These dynamics of maturation can have effects on the degree of brain asymmetry found in adults. It might be that traumatic events halted normal development of brain asymmetry.

    (If the first reference I made, to the Gilmore et al study, is not posted, it means it was eliminated by the spam filter, because it does not show up in the preview area right now.)

  • Evan

    I forgot to mention that sample sizes in the studies I quoted are greater than those in the Savic et al study.

  • Evan

    I posted one on topic message in response to Ann’s question but it looks like it was filtered out by the spam killer. I’ll try again.

  • Evan

    Ann,

    How young can a person be to have this kind of examination on their brain?

    I’ll try to answer your question, according to what research I’ve seen. This is not a settled question, though.

    Newborn babies (or neonates, as scientists call them) can show patterns of cerebral asymmetry as early as the first weeks after birth. There have been a few magnetic resonance imaging studies in neonates which found certain areas were developing faster than others. But the patterns are not the same, some of them contradict the findings of this study, in that the patterns of asymmetry are completely the opposite of what Savic et al found in adults, which throws a shadow of doubt over the robustness of their contention that what they found are inborn patterns.

    Gilmore et al. (2007) found that male neonates had overall greater total brain grey and white matter volumes in the cortex than female babies did (confirms adult patterns), but the hemispheric asymmetry was slanted from left to right (as opposed to known adult pattern). So, some patterns are present at birth, others can develop after birth.

    Reference: Gilmore et al (2007), Regional Gray Matter Growth, Sexual Dimorphism, and Cerebral Asymmetry in the Neonatal Brain, The Journal of Neuroscience, February 7, 2007, 27(6):1255-1260.

    Other researchers found that brain asymmetries can be attenuated in children with a history of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, compared to controls.

    Reference: Carriona et al (2001), Attenuation of frontal asymmetry in pediatric posttraumatic stress disorder, Biological Psychiatry, Volume 50, Issue 12.

    Another neuroimaging study indicated that there are age-related sex differences in brain maturation. 6–17-years old boys showed significantly greater loss of grey matter volume and an increase in both white matter and corpus callosum area compared with girls. These dynamics of maturation can have effects on the degree of brain asymmetry found in adults. It might be that traumatic events halted normal development of brain asymmetry.

    Reference: De Bellis et al (2001), Sex Differences in Brain Maturation during Childhood and Adolescence, Cerebral Cortex, Vol. 11, No. 6, 552-557, June 2001.

  • Ann

    from most of the ex gays I know, having to devle into our sexuality brings forth a very close perspective of what sexuality means from a transoformed view. It is never going to be like that of a man or woman who has never had same sex attraction.

    Mary,

    This is so important – I hope it is talked about more.

  • Mary

    Ann,

    My view is that the brain has plasticity for a much longer period than currently thought. As far as when something becomes a fixation – when it provides comfort in some meaningful way.

    To this day I still drink Dr. Pepper as my soda choice. Reminds me of a hot summer day my Grandmother (who always broke the rules) walked me up to the corner deli and bought one for me. My mother was furious because she was trying to raise us children without too much processed sugar. The comfort was the freedom.

    I am certain that a lot of sexual development occurs as an emotional comfort for something. And throw in all the olfactory memories, etc… and Voila! I’m not sure a homosexual or a heterosexual can tell you exactly what that is in their past.

  • Mary

    Hey Ann,

    Ask Warren for my e-mail address. I would love to talk about this further without distractions?

  • Ann

    As far as when something becomes a fixation – when it provides comfort in some meaningful way.

    Mary,

    Do you feel as though this can be a determining factor in sexual orientation? Also, if so, what do you feel can move a baby, toddler, child, or young adult through fixation into a more balanced perception of sexual identity or interest? I am wondering if brain scans can track this over a certain time period and not just a one time occurance.

  • Evan

    Mary said: I am certain that a lot of sexual development occurs as an emotional comfort for something.

    Drawing on Mary’s thought, which I first dismissed as a serious cause, I can think of many things that point in this direction.

    Many of the SSA-ed men I’ve talked to mentioned this pervasive feeling of fear towards typical same-sex peers, most of them experienced during childhood and adolescence (the kitchen boy, the sissy, etc), but some of them experienced only during adulthood. Seeing these studies, the Safron et al (2007) and the Savic et al (2008), this begins to make sense as gay men had a more intense response in the fear hub of the brain, the amygdala. I argued that this greater fear response may be due to a deficient or atypical expression in aggressiveness in a brain region which keeps the threshold of sensitivity low enough to allow a lot more stimuli in the emotional brain of SSA-ed males than in that of OSA-ed males. This effect must be due to lower androgenisation in some areas that sustain aggressive tonus.

    Another cause that must contribute to this effect is the already documented difference in spatial orientation. My bet is that this highly sex-typified faculty is factored in in the way social (gender) recognition is processed by gay and straight brains. Gay men’s brains must have a less aggressive disposition which makes them more impressionable by what is visually more aggressive-looking in typical gender terms, given that male bodies are typically built bigger to respond to instincts that are built in the typical female brains (if we consider straight men and women’s complementarity according to Helen Fisher’s lust-attraction-attachment scheme). So attractions are sustained by a differential in aggressiveness and physical body typicality. Once some individuals are significantly more or less aggressive (in terms of mental tonus, not necessarily in behaviour) than the typical average for their gender, they are more predisposed to a certain childhood path of development, which results in strong sexualisation of the gender they felt most different from. This interrelation between spatial orientation, aggressiveness and social recognition of genders must be mediated by a visual internal construct of genders, a number of body maps that are used according to some predispositions and how some abilities are already tuned. These body maps kick in instantly as someone is observed and the inner emotional environment decides how they are recognised: impressive/unimpressive, attractive/unattractive. One could cognitively recognise a male/female for what they are as gender category, but emotionally they might recognise them atypically.

    To return to the observation that sexual attraction offers emotional comfort, which can be seen both in straightness and gayness. Given that atypical expression of some very basic dimensions which are closely linked with sexuality, like aggressiveness, can lead to atypical recognition of genders, it must also build an expectation of reward related to possibly interacting with that attractive and impressive person. Emotional relief and physical reward are expected from the interaction with a person that is either perceived as “in need of protection” or “protective”, in instant emotional terms (not in long-perspective cognitive planning). So sexual attraction is a moment of perceived possible relief and disinhibition that can lead to physical rewarding interaction.

    PS. This reminds me of Plato’s unwritten doctrine on the theory of Good, understood as Indefinite Duality between Great and Small and participation to One. Maybe Plato was thinking about, gender relations under the guise of Forms…

  • Mary

    Ann,

    Brain scans can show discomfort – I’m sure – as well as pleasure. I don’t know about infantile development and scanning. And like Evan, I am looking to the amygdala as the place of interest for these chemical reactions. And if fear and isolation are present more often than comfort and relationship then we are going to have a person who interprets the world from a different perspective – one that is not jiving with the majority of others. Such tiny details with huge impact.

  • Mary

    Ann,

    Yes, I think it can be a factor in the development of sexuality. The way – at least for me to move from fixation to balance – is to first recognize what I am fixated on, talk and share about that with someone who will keep my confidentiality and is aware that I am working through an issue (as I percieve it) and then adjust through a series of defining myself and redefining myself – always allowing myself to make mistakes and adjustments – albeit I can get very, very tired and discouraged of this at times. The fixation ( from my understanding) in homosexual development will usually have nothing to do with sexuality in it’s origin – unless of course sexual abuse is part of a person’s history and they think it has played a portion in the development of their current place. Mostly from my view – it has to do with where we find comfort. We are nudged and prompted to move here or there, in this direction or that one because of events (nurture) in our lives and how our brain (nature) percieves those events. And this starts from the moment of birth.

  • Drowssap

    Mary

    It is never going to be like that of a man or woman who has never had same sex attraction.

    Yep, I believe that.

  • Mary

    It doesn’t mean Drowssap, that we are any less attracted to the opposite sex – it does mean that we do not follow what society means by attraction. I don’t find many ex lesbians being gagaga over guys the way single women who have never had a same sex attraction can be. And I also see many who are in fact turned off by guys who view sexuality from the social media point of view. Sexual intimacy is more than just body parts and more than just intended for a good roll in the hay. Lots of women (people in general) don’t spend the same amount of time getting touch with their sexuality as ex gays.

  • Evan

    I know this study reported differences in amygdala connectivity with other areas, but I wonder whether handedness is not a variable that plays different roles by sexual orientation. Maybe if the subjects were left-handed HoM and HeW compared to right-handed HeM and HoW the results would have looked less different. So keeping all things equal by handedness could have created a less specific pattern of connectivity in this study. One study by Szabo et al (2001) showed that amygdala volume, for instance, is different in right-handed individuals from left-handed ones, which might also have a bearing on connectivity. Just a thought.

  • Evan

    Let me make my question clearer. If handedness is kept equal, sexual orientation might skew the results differently by gender than if handedness were discontinuously variable. Since volume can vary by handedness, sexual orientation might have different effects within each gender category, given that brain usage is atypical. Attraction to women could create the same effect on amygdala connectivity irrespective of gender (HeM and HoW) and a different similar pattern on the connectivity of genders attracted to men (HoM and HeW). But if they studied left-handed HoM, right-handed HeW compared to left-handed HeM and right-handed HoW, maybe the findings would have looked completely different.

  • Drowssap

    Mary

    Sexual intimacy is more than just body parts and more than just intended for a good roll in the hay.

    My wife and I have joked over the years that we wish our marriage was about sex a lot more than it actually is. 8-)

    Relationships are 5% sex and 95% everything else. I’m not saying I like those ratios, but that’s reality. Whats interesting is that when the 5% is messed up the 95% goes right out the window with it.

  • Mary

    Haha – So true Drowpass!

  • Ann

    Evan,

    Thanks for all the information – I guess I missed this very important part before I asked the question.

    l

    About environment, they observe that sex-based brain differences have been observed at birth and in children. However, cerebral maturation continues through puberty, especially in boys

    Regarding the hormonal aspect and the emphasis on it – I find that very interesting. In other areas of our bodies, hormones are medically controlled if they are secreting too much or too little and I am wondering if that will be looked at with this too. I would think organic hormonal imbalance versus environmental imbalance.

  • Evan

    Ann,

    You’re welcome. :)

    Whatever causes that must also be related to what causes GID, IMO. The best explanation must cover as many cases along the spectrum as possible. The GID kids are the final test. If it doesn’t work for them, then it’s not plausible. That makes early hormones influence the most likely “culprit”. No stronger effect could produce so early this degree of gender nonconformism that is the least related to influences coming from the social environment. The next big question after that of causes is what makes the mechanism trigger at different ages: before puberty, during puberty, at the end of puberty and, in some cases, in early adulthood. That should have different expressions by degrees and different impact by age (that might lower the chances for genes). For example: at very early age it creates gender identity problems, whereas in later years it creates gender curiosity and then attractions. Environment jumps in and intermingles events with predispositions somehow.

    Wait, I have a foreglimpse of how future scientists will study that: — Androgen hormones modulation in the brain of ball-hitting and hiphop dancing 3-year-olds, or better yet — Weapon choice in online space simulation games codes for preschool boys’ aggressiveness scoring in real-life arguments over chicken appetizers; And it’s got something to do with future gender attractions too! Etc.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    The GID kids are the final test. If it doesn’t work for them, then it’s not plausible. That makes early hormones influence the most likely “culprit”. No stronger effect could produce so early this degree of gender nonconformism that is the least related to influences coming from the social environment.

    I agree, 100%. The only thing I’d add is that the hormones involved in orientation and/or gender awareness are probably specialized. If SSA was the result of something very general like low testosterone during pregnancy the evidence would be widespread because low testosterone would impact everything else in the body.

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    I would think organic hormonal imbalance versus environmental imbalance

    The evidence suggests that SSA is environmental. I’d bet 100 to 1 that if a hormone irregularity is the trigger it’s largely or completely caused by an external, environmental force. Further I’d guess that once mankind determines where this force comes from we’ll be unimpressed. 2% to 4% of men are gay so this factor has to be extremely common to people everywhere.

  • Ann

    The evidence suggests that SSA is environmental

    Drowssap,

    Yes, and I do agree with this. The reason I said organic verses environmental is because hormones can be affected by birth control pills, etc. (environmental) and that is not what I meant by too much or too little. I was thinking more along the lines of something like a thyroid condition which affects every area of the body – if there is too much thyroid hormone, that is called hyperthyroidism – too little hormone secretion is called hypotheroidism. It is essential to have them controlled with medicine for balance.

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    Oh… organic in that sense absolutely yes.

    BTW, speaking of specialized hormones that affect personality…

    Scientists find childbirth wonder drug that can ‘cure’ shyness

    Natural shyness isn’t a disorder. Me and everyone on my dad’s side are naturally shy. But shyness gives some insight into the way disorders might work.

    “Previous research has revealed autistic children have lower than usual levels of oxytocin in their blood.”

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    If SSA was the result of something very general like low testosterone during pregnancy the evidence would be widespread because low testosterone would impact everything else in the body.

    Actually, I’ve noticed that many gay men look effeminate on the physical side too: less masculine-typical facial bone structure, “ectomorphic” constitution, less pronounced secondary sex characteristics (including the higher digit ratio, where valid). Bailey’s pupil and collaborer, Gerulf Rieger, studied some behavioural typicalities and how they are recognised by others, including voice, which in gays was more effeminised on average. They also used recorded material from the subjects’ early childhood which narrows the possibility of social learning.

    But there could be many strands of less-than-typical men. Some may get their atypicality from less-than-average androgen overall exposure — which might impact the entire body, others may get very localised atypicalities — the whole package of somatic typically masculine stuff, but less androgenised brains because of lower androgen receptors in some brain areas. It’s like having two experiment subjects that you give the same large amount of food intake; one gets fatter/bigger the other does not, because of some metabolic syndrome.

  • Evan

    There’s one thing that doesn’t make complete sense in this hormonal brain story as yet.

    If gays have either effeminised or less masculinised brains then they should have similar patterns of attractions as non-homosexual women. Scientists have argued that women have less specific patterns of attraction and arousal, as opposed to men, who have a more channelised pattern. If so, having an effeminised or less masculinised brain should produce less channelised patterns of attraction and arousal in men too. IMO, there’s something missing in the ‘effeminised brain’ hypothesis. Possible explanation: gay men can be just as attracted to women as straight women can, but their developmental background creates the channelising effect. Which raises the question why wouldn’t more ‘ex-gays’ be able to reverse their developmental slip more easily. “Use it or lose it” faculty that missed the critical age for development or, in some cases, pushed back reward thresholds that makes them addicted to some behaviours. If we factor in their greater stress susceptibility, then sexually rewarding behaviours are a palliative for stress or mood problems. If this hypothesis turns out to be right, Michael Bailey might be wrong about the similarity in sexual behaviour between heterosexual and homosexual men but dissimilarity by number of available partners. The effect is confounded by gay men’s greater susceptibility to stress (indicated by the amygdala patterns we saw in this study and another one) and their greater likelihood to resort to rewarding behaviours (which is typical of addicts with stress-related problems in general, not just one sexual category). It fits some accounts I read, although certainly not all of them.

  • Evan

    Typos can happen:

    “pushed back reward thresholds that make them addicted”.

    + another one from the previous message:

    “Bailey’s pupil and collaborator, Gerulf Rieger”

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    Possible explanation: gay men can be just as attracted to women as straight women can, but their developmental background creates the channelising effect. Which raises the question why wouldn’t more ‘ex-gays’ be able to reverse their developmental slip more easily. “Use it or lose it” faculty that missed the critical age for development or, in some cases, pushed back reward thresholds that makes them addicted to some behaviours.

    The problem with your incredibly biased view – a bias you have shown us on this blog over and over again, is that you presume that heterosexuality is a norm and that everything, including homosexuality, is just a distortion of that. You are not alone obviously, and your views aren’t anywhere near new, but your bias ignores the differences that may exist in gay men’s minds – differences that have absolutely nothing to do with women’s minds. That you believe they must be exactly alike, speaks more to your inherent prejudices – which you’ve demonstrated time and again – and less to objective scientific principles.

    You’ve proven that you are anti-gay – in too many instances – and that you believe, and would rather twist science to support your beliefs, that being gay is unnatural or somehow not normal. You’re views aren’t new, your interpretation of science isn’t new, but it IS well- spoken. That, I’ll give you :)

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    “Actually, I’ve noticed that many gay men look effeminate on the physical side too: less masculine-typical facial bone structure, “ectomorphic” constitution, less pronounced secondary sex characteristics (including the higher digit ratio, where valid).”

    Please Evan – you’re talking about gay men that are obvious – you seem to completely ignore all the gay men who aren’t obvious – please refrain from playing on stereotypes and I’ll refrain from playing on stereotypical, idiotic, straight men ;)

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    “Actually, I’ve noticed that many gay men look effeminate on the physical side too: less masculine-typical facial bone structure, “ectomorphic” constitution, less pronounced secondary sex characteristics (including the higher digit ratio, where valid).”

    Please Evan – you’re talking about gay men that are obvious – you seem to completely ignore all the gay men who aren’t obvious – please refrain from playing on stereotypes and I’ll refrain from playing on stereotypical, not-very-smart, straight men ;)

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    “Identical twins are concordant for SSA just 20% of the time. How could the womb environment be so different most of the time? “

    That’s absolutely not true Evan – that depends on the study you are looking at – several studies have shown that identical twins are concordant for homosexuality 50% of the time – please refrain from distorting research -

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    You confused the author of the identical twins quote. It’s Drowssap.

  • Evan

    You’re [sic]views aren’t new, your interpretation of science isn’t new

    I usually pay attention to all the arguments on this issue and I haven’t seen anyone asking those questions. That’s why I wrote them here. No one addressed those issues yet, at least not publicly. If you know any reference, just quote it.

    I was making a simple syllogism:

    - scientists have argued that women’s arousal patterns are not targeted to only one gender, as opposed to men’s;

    - present research brings more and more evidence that gay men’s brains have atypical organisation and function, that resemble straight women’s patterns (hemispheric symmetry, amygdala connectivity and rCBF in the Amy, INAH3 size, etc.);

    - therefore, gay men should exhibit the same similarity in the patterns of arousal, at least to some extent.

    If the conclusion is wrong, then one of the premises is wrong. Since the first one is already supported by research and the second one keeps gathering evidence in its support, it only remains that brainwise gay men must have arousal potentials similar to those of straight women. I argued that the only possible factor that could have created a specific gender preference must be their developmental path. I also argued that this may have created some self-locking mechanism that makes attempts at reversal very difficult or with limited results (as we know from surveys conducted on ‘ex-gays’), due to missed windows of opportunity that were present at certain critical ages.

    You did not bring any arguments to support your denial.

  • Evan

    The last message addressed Jayhuck’s replies.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Evan is asking some great questions here. Not sure when I will have time to reply to them all but I am reading through this thread with profit.

    The 20% figure on twins is closer to the accurate number. The 50% figure has been addressed by Michael Bailley on whose 1990s research it is based. The sampling bias likely led to the higher number. Evan was not distorting anything. I have yet to see the newest Swedish study but the environmental factors (including prenatal ones) explained twice the variance of the genetic factors.

  • jayhuck

    Warren,

    The 20% figure on twins is closer to the accurate number.

    You mean closer to the accurate number for one study, don’t you? Is there more than one study that has reflected this figure?

    Evan,

    - therefore, gay men should exhibit the same similarity in the patterns of arousal, at least to some extent.

    To me this seems to be jumping the gun a bit. It would be ok to say that PERHAPS these similarities SUGGEST that gay men should exhibit the same arousal patterns – but that’s far from a certainty in my mind. Your conclusion is dependent on the idea that only these few similarities dictate arousal patterns and not other variables. It is also somewhat faulty to make such a SHOULD statement, when the evidence we are using isn’t established as fact.

    I’m not saying you are wrong, but I think its a bit extreme to make the leap you are making without more evidence.

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    You also seem to be ignoring evidence that suggests people fall along a spectrum of attraction, which I think deals with this to a certain degree. I can say with a good deal of certainty that women are not completely and utterly unattractive to my gay male friends, its simply a case that their primary attractions are for men. When we speak of being aroused by both sexes, we aren’t necessarily saying the the level or intensity of that arousal is the same for both sexes.

  • jayhuck

    Warren,

    I have yet to see the newest Swedish study but the environmental factors (including prenatal ones) explained twice the variance of the genetic factors.

    Is it really surprising that genes are working with the environment – in the case of the study, a prenatal environment?

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    that resemble straight women’s patterns (hemispheric symmetry, amygdala connectivity and rCBF in the Amy, INAH3 size, etc.);

    Resembling is not the same thing as being identical to. To what extent this is a factor I couldn’t say, but unless they are exactly alike in every way, I wouldn’t, necessarily, expect the same function. Often, the slightest difference in structure can lead to wildly different results.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    Let me put the problem in the least complex way:

    We have two types of attractions ‘built’ in the gay and straight brains: attraction to females and attraction to males. The principle that creates one type of attractions must work in both cases (gay and straight) — we cannot have two ways of creating attractions to females or males, or can we? Nature didn’t spend double energy to produce two ways of having babies.

    Therefore — suspending all developmental details and focusing on the inborn aspects — we must have the same principle working in gay men’s and straight women’s brains to produce the same effect: attraction to males. It follows that whatever conclusion we derive from studies on non-homosexual female attractions must apply to homosexual men’s attractions, because attractions to men must be built on the same biological principle. Of course, gay men’s brains must have some areas that manage male physiology different from straight women’s areas that manage female-typical functions, but not with respect to attractions. The working principle must be the same there. Or scientists are wrong about brain hormonisation.

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    You are making inferences based on insufficient evidence and knowledge. You said:

    - scientists have argued that women’s arousal patterns are not targeted to only one gender, as opposed to men’s;

    - present research brings more and more evidence that gay men’s brains have atypical organisation and function, that resemble straight women’s patterns (hemispheric symmetry, amygdala connectivity and rCBF in the Amy, INAH3 size, etc.);

    1) That scientists have argued an issue is not the same thing as saying scientists have proven – there is no concrete proof that womens’ arousal patterns are not targeted to only one gender, is there? If so, please tell me how and when it was proven – if this is indeed a fact and not simply a hypothesis or idea, then we can move on from here

    2)It is my understanding that we don’t completely understand how arousal is generated in either sex’s brain. That we have SOME idea is certain, that we completely understand everything is less so – that being the case, it is indeed a leap for you to be making the statements that you make concerning men

    3) I think it would be important not just to say that arousal is being targeted towards both sexes but also to talk about the quality of that arousal – is it equal towards both sexes in those women who display this?

    4) Simply because SOME women show arousal for both sexes and because gay men’s brains SEEM to RESEMBLE women’s brains to a certain degree – does not mean you can follow with a statement like the one you made which was “therefore, gay men should exhibit the same similarity in the patterns of arousal, at least to some extent.”

    There are too many things we still don’t know Evan – I think it would be irresponsible to suggest otherwise. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t or shouldn’t ask these types of questions – I would simply refrain from making such statements

  • jayhuck

    Does anyone know about the study currently being conducted at UCLA on genes and sexual attraction?

  • Ann

    I argued that the only possible factor that could have created a specific gender preference must be their developmental path. I also argued that this may have created some self-locking mechanism that makes attempts at reversal very difficult or with limited results (as we know from surveys conducted on ‘ex-gays’), due to missed windows of opportunity that were present at certain critical ages.

    Evan,

    I agree. Attraction can be nebulous and fleeting and inconsistant – preference, however, especially enduring, is developed. I am particularly intrigued with the “self-locking mechanism” you refer to – I agree and have thought that the reason it happens is because of missed opportunities of intervention at critical ages as well, mostly due to the stigma and shame associated with SSA. Is this what you are referring to or do you mean more of a medical intervention, and if so, what would that mean?

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    I also argued that this may have created some self-locking mechanism that makes attempts at reversal very difficult or with limited results

    This argument is not new either – it has been made by many anti-gay people, including Reparative Therapists.

  • Ann

    This argument is not new either – it has been made by many anti-gay people, including Reparative Therapists.

    Jayhuck,

    Do you feel the argument is completely invalid or could it be plausible and worthy of further consideration?

  • jayhuck

    Ann,

    I honestly think we don’t know enough about the way attraction works and that this statement is simply catering to anti-gay beliefs. There are too many unknowns regarding gays and ex-gays – our knowledge is limited. I don’t think we can or should start with such a proposition.

  • Ann

    Jayhuck,

    Ok – I guess my question had to do with validity or plausibility of the argument. I think, all things considered about what we know and don’t know, it is plausible and worthy of further consideration. Catering to anti-gay beliefs? I don’t think what Evan wrote or has ever written would support your allegation.

  • jayhuck

    The fact that Evan is repeating an idea put forward by anti-gay folks MAY be coincidence or it may not – I cannot answer that. Is the idea plausible? Many, Many ideas are plausible – is it likely? We don’t have anywhere near enough information to answer that yet

  • jayhuck

    The mistake, in my mind, would be giving it consideration when there are other things we need to figure out first – its a bit like putting the cart before the horse – IMO

  • Ann

    Many, Many ideas are plausible – is it likely? We don’t have anywhere near enough information to answer that yet

    Jayhuck,

    I didn’t ask if it was likely. I asked if you felt the argument was completely invalid or plausible and worthy of further discussion? Do you?

  • jayhuck

    I already answered the question Ann. Like hundreds of other ideas, it IS plausible, but its not something we should pursue at this point because there are other things we need to know first. Like all plausible ideas, it should be discussed – and we are discussing it.

  • jayhuck

    And part of that discussion involves the fact that it is an idea first put out by anti-gay folks. Part of the discussion is figuring out whether or not its a likely idea or not.

  • jayhuck

    Ann,

    One last note before I go to work – I do believe, but can’t be sure at the moment, that this is a discussion that some scientists have already had – the specifics of that discussion and the outcome is something I’ll have to research

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    This argument is not new either – it has been made by many anti-gay people, including Reparative Therapists.

    Sorry, but I’m not familiar with their work. Was it published in a peer-reviewed journal?

  • Evan

    Ann,

    I am particularly intrigued with the “self-locking mechanism” you refer to – I agree and have thought that the reason it happens is because of missed opportunities of intervention at critical ages as well, mostly due to the stigma and shame associated with SSA. Is this what you are referring to or do you mean more of a medical intervention, and if so, what would that mean?

    I used that expression to point to a possible explanation for why “ex-gay” people have small rates of reported change. I got to this point by trying to formulate a general explanation for underlying causes of atypical attractions that covers all reported facts, regardless of where they come from, as long as they follow some scientific guidelines. Yes, probably this “self-locking mechanism” explains why therapists who work with people with unwanted same-sex attractions have limited results. I’m not making any value judgement here, as Jayhuck implies, but this phenomenon must be explained if we are serious about developing a good theory on what causes attractions and what makes them more stable than not.

    There are many ways we can imagine such mechanism. I argued that in males that may be the result of greater susceptibility to stress (created by atypical amygdala patterns and connectivity) and pushed back reward thresholds for sexual arousal (someone would need greater thrills to replace a former behaviour that was used as a palliative against mood problems). I have read messages by gay men saying that they can have sex with women but sex with men is greater for them, etc. I think that, besides the issue of attractions and how they are generated, there is always a degree of sensitisation that creates emotional memories associated with expectations of physical reward. This might work differently at different ages, building on attractions and creating new thresholds for arousal that cannot be readily reversed.

  • Evan

    I posted a long reply to Jayhuck, but it looks like the spam filter intercepted it.

  • Evan

    OK, I’ll post the reply to Jayhuck again.

    Jayhyck wrote:

    there is no concrete proof that womens’ arousal patterns are not targeted to only one gender

    Meredith L. Chivers, Gerulf Rieger, Elizabeth Latty, and J. Michael Bailey, A Sex Difference in the Specificity of Sexual Arousal, Psychological Science, Volume 15, Number 11, November 2004 , pp. 736-744(9). Quote:

    Our findings suggest that women have a nonspecific pattern of sexual arousal that is quite different from men’s category-specific pattern. Men and postoperative male-to-female transsexuals preferring men showed substantially higher subjective and genital responses to male-male than to female-female stimuli, and men and transsexuals preferring women showed the opposite pattern. In contrast, women’s subjective and genital responses were only modestly related to their preferred category: Heterosexual and lesbian women experienced genital and subjective arousal to both male-male and female-female stimuli.

    Jayhuck said:

    It is my understanding that we don’t completely understand how arousal is generated in either sex’s brain. That we have SOME idea is certain, that we completely understand everything is less so – that being the case, it is indeed a leap for you to be making the statements that you make concerning men

    Sure, there is a distance from attractions to arousal, and there can be different gender-specific ways of processing arousal even when the type of attractions might be the same (less targeted to one gender). Anxiety was reported to cause erections, or actually this is how it was interpreted for men who were discordant by sexual orientation for the visual sexual stimuli they reacted to. (See Barlow, Sakheim, and Beck’s 1983 theory of the role of anxiety and attention in sexual responding. Ref.: Barlow, D. H., Sakheim, D. K., and Beck, J. G. (1983). Anxiety increases sexual arousal. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 92, 49-54. The boosting role of anxiety in arousal was observed more recently in women too. Cf.: Palace, Eileen M., Gorzalka, Boris B., The enhancing effects of anxiety on arousal in sexually dysfunctional and functional women. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 1990 Nov., Vol 99(4) 403-411. We discussed the issue of gay men’s greater susceptibility to anxiety and mood disorders on different topics, where I quoted a number of references. Savic and Lindstrom mentioned this too in relation to the amygdala connectivity and rCBF measurements similarities between homosexual men and heterosexual women.)

    But the issue still is: scientists come up with female-like patterns of homosexual men’s brains (hemispheric symmetry, amygdala connectivity), they argue that those patterns are not likely to be due to socially-induced developmental differences but rather inborn and we hear messages like these:

    LOL – This study proves, maybe for the first, time, that homosexuality is hardwired in the brain, even before birth.

    ………………….

    This quote is still powerful, and definitely adds to the body of knowledge that points to a hardwiring of homosexuality:

    ““That was the whole point of the study, to show parameters that differ, but which couldn’t be altered by learning or cognitive processes,” says Savic.””

    …………………..

    cannot state unequivocally that it is hardwired, but it adds to an ever-increasing and impressive body of knowledge that points to the fact that part of sexuality, perhaps even a large part, is definitely hard-wired. The distinctions in brain symmetry alone are incredibly interesting. The studies authors were smart enough as well to narrow down those aspects of the brain likely “to have been fixed at birth”

    Hardwired or not? Female-typical patterns or not? Y/N.

    Researchers argued for both positives, but they did not establish that, because they need to have their study duplicated first.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    Let me change one term that was not precise enough in this context:

    brainwise gay men must have arousal potentials similar to those of straight women.

    That’s not very clear. I could have said it better, like this:

    If what is different between homosexual and heterosexual men’s brains also makes heterosexual women’s and homosexual men’s brains similar — that is, lack of asymmetry and amygdala connectivity — then we can assume that the found differences in men must also be linked to their sexual orientation. To continue this idea, the two correlates must have something to do with attraction to males, regardless of sex. Therefore we can assume that homosexual men and heterosexual women must also be similar in how their brains generate attractions. However, given that men and women have different physiological ways to process sexual arousal, the resulting patterns of arousal must be typical according to gender and much less to orientation.

    I’ll try to answer my own question on the structural similarities that may not translate in similar patterns of arousal.

    Both genders’ attractions, male and female, to the male gender are not manifested in the same way in patterns of arousal. In other words, gay men may combine feminine brain sensitivity (which in their case is sex-atypical) with masculine brain capacity to become aroused. They might get the best of both worlds, so to speak. Men probably have a lower threshold of arousability which makes the sexual response more categorical and prompt to the stimuli that are perceived to be more thrilling. If anxiety plays an atypical role (for male individuals) in ascribing stronger emotional valence to the gender they felt most different from, then it causes an increased state of general arousal. How does nonspecific arousal get channelised? Most gays reported feeling different from their same-gender peers, which must be due to their lower levels of aggressiveness. I think that the combination of “feeling different” or seeing same-sex individuals as different in terms of typical traits, like aggressiveness, and the forementioned greater susceptibility to anxiety can act like a two-tier self-reinforcing mechanism that produces same-sex attractions in males. The amygdala patterns point to both these factors, because the amygdala participates both in modulation of aggressive behaviours and fear conditioning. There is an increasing number of important brain tasks that the amygdalae are found to play a role in, including visuospatial memory. The subject is veru interesting but too big for my free time right now.

    it is indeed a leap for you to be making the statements that you make concerning men

    I’m not making any statement as yet. I’m taking all research seriously and trying to see how new evidence clarifies already known disconnected facts. I start from facts and build possible explanations for the unexplained parts. This is how research proceeds, building and dismissing hypothesis every 5 minutes (Einstein said something to this effect…). The best case scenario is to be paid to do that too. :)

    The Swedish researchers studied those patterns that they thought most likely not to be the product of orientation, but rather arising from inborn tendencies to develop patterns later confirmed in adulthood. They specifically focused on the patterns that differentiate orientations: brain characteristics that are sex-typical and the way they are atypically reflected in both homosexual orientations. Shouldn’t that mean that the found differences must play a significant role in determining orientation? I think so.

    Now I’m going to attack this theoretical possibility.

    Why would less asymmetry in gay men’s brains cause primary attractions to men? Why wouldn’t it cause or correlate with weaker attractions to women? Maybe what creates stronger attractions to men does not also create lower attractions to women. Less asymmetry could, for instance, cause more attractions to men, but may not contribute to what creates less attractions to women. The causes could be disconnected one from another and only connected in bisexuals.

    Another problem I see coming from this study. (This study is truly evil, because it raises more questions than it answers…)

    Why do homosexual women have the smallest brains in absolute size? It doesn’t make sense, because they have male-like asymmetry but they don’t have the same male-like tendency in bigger size than heterosexual women. So it looks like some things are typical, others are atypical or even too typical. But still, why would proposed greater brain androgenisation cause significantly smaller overall size in homosexual women compared to heterosexual ones? It’s totally counterintuitive, it seems that greater androgenisation in a female brain can produce different effects (both male-typical asymmetry and female-typical smaller brain size) than typical androgenisation in a male brain (asymmetry and bigger size). It could be the same case with the brain of homosexual men and heterosexual women: it’s one thing to feminize a genetically female brain and quite another to feminize a genetically male brain. The feminization and androgenisation scenarios might be played differently according to gender. It could be a case of too much of the opposite-sex hormone and below average gender-specific hormone exposure.

    The problem with your incredibly biased view – a bias you have shown us on this blog over and over again…

    I’m a man, therefore I’m biased.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    Let me rephrase this sentence:

    brainwise gay men must have arousal potentials similar to those of straight women.

    That’s not very clear. I could have said it better, like this:

    If what is different between homosexual and heterosexual men’s brains also makes heterosexual women’s and homosexual men’s brains similar — that is, lack of asymmetry and amygdala connectivity — then we can assume that the found differences in men must also be linked to their sexual orientation. To continue this idea, the two correlates must have something to do with attraction to males, regardless of sex. Therefore we can assume that homosexual men and heterosexual women must also be similar in how their brains generate attractions. However, given that men and women have different physiological ways to process sexual arousal, the resulting patterns of arousal must be typical according to gender and much less to orientation.

    I’ll try to answer my own question on the structural similarities that may not translate in similar patterns of arousal.

    Both genders’ attractions, male and female, to the male gender are not manifested in the same way in patterns of arousal. In other words, gay men may combine feminine brain sensitivity (which in their case is sex-atypical) with masculine brain capacity to become aroused. They might get the best of both worlds, so to speak. Men probably have a lower threshold of arousability which makes the sexual response more categorical and prompt to the stimuli that are perceived to be more thrilling. If anxiety plays an atypical role (for male individuals) in ascribing stronger emotional valence to the gender they felt most different from, then it causes an increased state of general arousal. How does nonspecific arousal get channelised? Most gays reported feeling different from their same-gender peers, which must be due to their lower levels of aggressiveness. I think that the combination of “feeling different” or seeing same-sex individuals as different in terms of typical traits, like aggressiveness, and the forementioned greater susceptibility to anxiety can act like a two-tier self-reinforcing mechanism that produces same-sex attractions in males. The amygdala patterns point to both these factors, because the amygdala participates both in modulation of aggressive behaviours and fear conditioning. There is an increasing number of important brain tasks that the amygdalae are found to play a role in, including visuospatial memory. The subject is very interesting but too big for my free time right now.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck said:

    it is indeed a leap for you to be making the statements that you make concerning men

    I’m not making any statement as yet. I’m taking all research seriously and trying to see how new evidence clarifies already known disconnected facts. I start from facts and build possible explanations for the unexplained parts. This is how research proceeds, building and dismissing hypothesis every 5 minutes (Einstein said something to this effect…). The best case scenario is to be paid to do that too. :)

    The Swedish researchers studied those patterns that they thought most likely not to be the product of orientation, but rather arising from inborn tendencies to develop patterns later confirmed in adulthood. They specifically focused on the patterns that differentiate orientations: brain characteristics that are sex-typical and the way they are atypically reflected in both homosexual orientations. Shouldn’t that mean that the found differences must play a significant role in determining orientation? I think so.

    Now I’m going to attack this theoretical possibility.

    Why would less asymmetry in gay men’s brains cause primary attractions to men? Why wouldn’t it cause or correlate with weaker attractions to women? Maybe what creates stronger attractions to men does not also create lower attractions to women. Less asymmetry could, for instance, cause more attractions to men, but may not contribute to what creates less attractions to women. The causes could be disconnected one from another and only connected in bisexuals.

    Another problem I see coming from this study. (This study is truly evil, because it raises more questions than it answers…)

    Why do homosexual women have the smallest brains in absolute size? It doesn’t make sense, because they have male-like asymmetry but they don’t have the same male-like tendency in bigger size than heterosexual women. So it looks like some things are typical, others are atypical or even too typical. But still, why would proposed greater brain androgenisation cause significantly smaller overall size in homosexual women compared to heterosexual ones? It’s totally counterintuitive, it seems that greater androgenisation in a female brain can produce different effects (both male-typical asymmetry and female-typical smaller brain size) than typical androgenisation in a male brain (asymmetry and bigger size). It could be the same case with the brain of homosexual men and heterosexual women: it’s one thing to feminize a genetically female brain and quite another to feminize a genetically male brain. The feminization and androgenisation scenarios might be played differently according to gender. It could be a case of too much of the opposite-sex hormone and below average gender-specific hormone exposure.

    The problem with your incredibly biased view – a bias you have shown us on this blog over and over again…

    I’m a man, therefore I’m biased.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck said:

    it is indeed a leap for you to be making the statements that you make concerning men

    I’m not making any statement as yet. I’m taking all research seriously and trying to see how new evidence clarifies already known disconnected facts. I start from facts and build possible explanations for the unexplained parts. This is how research proceeds, building and dismissing hypothesis every 5 minutes (Einstein said something to this effect…).

    The Swedish researchers studied those patterns that they thought most likely not to be the product of orientation, but rather arising from inborn tendencies to develop patterns later confirmed in adulthood. They specifically focused on the patterns that differentiate orientations: brain characteristics that are sex-typical and the way they are atypically reflected in both homosexual orientations. Shouldn’t that mean that the found differences must play a significant role in determining orientation? I think so.

    Now I’m going to criticise this theoretical possibility.

    Why would less asymmetry in gay men’s brains cause primary attractions to men? Why wouldn’t it cause or correlate with weaker attractions to women? Maybe what creates stronger attractions to men does not also create lower attractions to women. Less asymmetry could, for instance, cause more attractions to men, but may not contribute to what creates less attractions to women. The causes could be disconnected one from another and only connected in bisexuals.

    Another problem I see coming from this study. (This study is truly evil, because it raises more questions than it answers…)

    Why do homosexual women have the smallest brains in absolute size? It doesn’t make sense, because they have male-like asymmetry but they don’t have the same male-like tendency in bigger brain size compared to heterosexual women. So it looks like some things are typical, others are atypical or even too typical.

    But still, why would proposed greater brain androgenisation cause significantly smaller overall size in homosexual women compared to heterosexual ones? It’s totally counterintuitive, it seems that greater androgenisation in a female brain can produce different effects (both male-typical asymmetry and female-typical smaller brain size) than typical androgenisation in a male brain (asymmetry and bigger size). It could be the same case with the brain of homosexual men and heterosexual women: it’s one thing to feminize a genetically female brain and quite another to feminize a genetically male brain. The feminization and androgenisation scenarios might be played differently according to gender. It could be a case of too much of the opposite-sex hormone and below average gender-specific hormone exposure.

    The problem with your incredibly biased view – a bias you have shown us on this blog over and over again…

    I’m a man, therefore I’m biased.

  • Evan

    It looks like all my replies are posted. Please delete any duplicates. Thanks.

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    LOL – I’m well aware of how research proceeds – but I appreciate the remedial lesson :)

    Why would less asymmetry in gay men’s brains cause primary attractions to men? Why wouldn’t it cause or correlate with weaker attractions to women? Maybe what creates stronger attractions to men does not also create lower attractions to women. Less asymmetry could, for instance, cause more attractions to men, but may not contribute to what creates less attractions to women. The causes could be disconnected one from another and only connected in bisexuals.

    Why would less asymmetry in gay men’s brains not cause primary attractions to men? Why couldn’t this difference correlate with stronger attractions to men? maybe what creates stronger attractions to men does create lower attractions to women.

    I appreciate many of your questions Evan – I also appreciate your scientific inquisitiveness – but I can’t help but raise an eyebrow at the fact that several of your statements, throughout your posting history, have reflected very anti-gay ideas, especially when you were discussing the psychological study regarding the mental health of gay people in tolerant countries. There have been times when you simply latch on to anti-gay ideas and completely fore go other possibilities – is that a coincidence? I’m beginning to wonder. Your self-locking mechanism is something that I first heard from a NARTH guru, Joseph Nicolosi. The ideas you put forward in general seem to be supportive of ex-gays and anti-gays and dismissive of gay people and gay rights.

    If I’ve over-simplified your viewpoints on these issues, I truly apologize. It wouldn’t be the first time But I think now would be a good time to ask these questions I’ve been meaning to ask for some time:

    1) Do you believe that gay people should enjoy all the rights and privileges of straight people? Should there be laws that protect them in housing, employment, etc?

    2) What are your personal feelings regarding gay people, gay couples and gay families? How about gay marriage?

    3) How do you feel about gay youth?

    I think many of us on here would like to know the answer to these questions. I also think that personal views can easily get lost and/or distorted when voicing scientific opinions, as you are fond of doing. I still don’t have a good idea where you are coming from and these answers might help with that.

    I truly hope you don’t mind me asking these questions – I don’t mean to put you on the spot – if you’d like to take this discussion off-line I’d be happy to have Warren share my email address with you and we could have this discussion in public

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    Most gays reported feeling different from their same-gender peers, which must be due to their lower levels of aggressiveness.

    What? These are the kinds of jumps I’m talking about? There are several other reasons that gay people may have felt different, not the least of which would be that they are attracted to people of the same sex, whereas most of their same-sex peers are not. There are other possibilities as to why gay people feel different. I felt different from my peers but my SSP were anything but aggressive – they were a bunch of geeks – good grief Evan

  • Evan

    No problem, Jayhuck. Just one off-topic post and then we can return to discussing the implications coming from this study.

    1) I think that laws should cover people regardless of sexual orientation. Actually the state does not need to know a citizen’s sexual orientation. So the rights should be the same, no special rights based on either orientation, IMO.

    2) No particular feelings. I don’t think about a person in terms of sexual orientation first. I may have met many people of different sexual orientations and may not have been aware of that. So, why should I focus on that? As long as they don’t poke it into my eye, like I have to react to it in a certain expected way, I am truly neutral to the peaceful co-existence of many people of different sexualities that keep their sexuality mainly private. I once met a girl that a friend of mine told me she was a lesbian, but I had no strange feeling meeting her, maybe that feeling of, you know, “she’s off limits”.

    Gay marriage. That’s a tough one, but I’ll drop a few lines. The institution of marriage, if it’s a serious one, should not be distorted to fit any given category’s wish to marry, because it was defined in an altogether different historical setting by a different tradition than the social dynamics that we have today. We can’t simply take something coming from the past and reshape it according to wishes, or else I can demand the right to be a king/nobleman that was refused to my ancestors because of so many years of oppression. Marriage should not be a right, but a priviledge for people who are responsible enough to live together for most of their life and have children too if they are able to be good parents. Unfortunately, this is an idealised image of marriage. In reality, a great deal of people marry because of social pressure and conformity and have kids because “it happens”. Then they think that kids can “grow up by themselves” if they have food on the table and some rules to follow. If marriage is so cheap that you can do it in a gas station and break it a couple of hours later, then why not make it a right and have anyone marry according to their particular whim? I should be a nobleman, after all, because history is already consumed and it doesn’t matter if we’re all noblemen and noblewomen. We have a right to be noble by default, not earn it.

    3) To be honest, I’m a bit concerned that a certain cultural setting may be more confusing to todays’ youth than it was some years ago. I talk to people of 15 to 30 years old each day and it seems to me that there is a great deal of pressure coming from an increasingly confusing social environment. There was a study on the debilitating effects of having too many choices on brain activity. It’s something similar to that, but at a massive scale. An opened society is our days’ best achievement of all historical periods, but it can also put people’s minds to unprecedented levels of strain, especially if they grew up in a society of comfort. For the young people who are completely and unreservedly sure of their childhood and teens same-sex feelings, gay identity must help them to better adjust to their feelings. But, if the presumed continuum turns out to be true, there is going to be lots of confused young people who have a hard time or even fail to conform to mainstream categories and might throw themselves to all sorts of risky or addictive behaviours trying to self-regulate.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    I appreciate many of your questions Evan – I also appreciate your scientific inquisitiveness – but I can’t help but raise an eyebrow at the fact that several of your statements, throughout your posting history, have reflected very anti-gay ideas, especially when you were discussing the psychological study regarding the mental health of gay people in tolerant countries. There have been times when you simply latch on to anti-gay ideas and completely fore go other possibilities – is that a coincidence? I’m beginning to wonder. Your self-locking mechanism is something that I first heard from a NARTH guru, Joseph Nicolosi. The ideas you put forward in general seem to be supportive of ex-gays and anti-gays and dismissive of gay people and gay rights.

    Thanks, I like solving difficult problems. I think that research must release the naked facts, no matter how uncomfortable that may be to each of us or to some of us. If the science of sexual orientation proves that male heterosexuality is the result of being, on an evolutionary scale, primarily aggressive, acquisitive, self-seeking, manipulative and lacking in awareness, I have no problem with that. Let the facts be known. If they find out that male homosexuality is the result of being meek, anxious, immature, empathising, altruistic and addicted to sex, then so be it. Why should science strive to come up with comforting facts?

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    I’ve read all your posts and both of us seem to come back to one general concept.

    Although gay and straight brains/bodies do appear to be different there is a 90%+ overlap between gay and straight.

    So that leaves us with stuff like

    A) SSA is caused by a specialized hormone, or lack of a specialized hormone

    B) SSA is caused by some sort brain feminization that takes place during a short “critical period”

    C) SSA is caused by a common hormone like testosterone or estrogen, however for some reason (maybe the androgen receptors are different) this hormone impacts a tiny part of the brain differently in gays and straights

    Because gay and straight people are so similar it always comes back to a tiny, limited effect.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    Also, one more general observation.

    If SSA is due to a lack of agression or related trait why would gay men possibly have an even STRONGER sex drive than straight men? Bailey’s brain scan indicated that gay men’s brains tend to light up stronger than straight men’s brains when shown sexual images.

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    I don’t know how attractions are caused, I examined a few possibilities according to a number of facts I know from research and everyday observation. There might be different paths at different ages that lead to similar effects during adulthood. I was mostly concerned in my messages with how same-sex attractions may work in adults, based on what this study and a few others showed with respect to some correlates, but the different paths that may lead to them at different ages, that is probably more difficult to establish. Some people got same-sex attractions before the activating hormonal effects on the brain that come with puberty, others got their attractions after puberty and after having a history of exclusive opposite-sex attractions. The GID kids may only remember feeling completely different from their peers, a lot more than many other future gay adults. So it’s a riddle how these different age groups come to the same result, even if we empirically find out how same-gender attractions actually work brainwise.

    Because gay and straight people are so similar it always comes back to a tiny, limited effect.

    I’m not a professional to know how tiny tiny can be. There is still a theoretical possibility that not all of these correlates really have an input in creating attractions. Some may simply be the result of different hormonisation without actually having a bearing on sexual feelings. I haven’t completely discounted Catherine Dulac’s idea about the existence of a switch mechanism that is connected to the dominant sensory modality (in mice it was olfaction, in humans it must be vision) and creates attractions regardless of hormonised brain organisation differences. That is still possible, with this important qualification: in mice, the amygdala has strong connectivity with the olfactory system, whereas in humans the relevant connectivity is between the amygdala and the neocortex, particularly with the visual cortex and the prefrontal cortex, which is barely the case with mice.

    If SSA is due to a lack of agression or related trait why would gay men possibly have an even STRONGER sex drive than straight men? Bailey’s brain scan indicated that gay men’s brains tend to light up stronger than straight men’s brains when shown sexual images.

    That’s a very good question. I will think about that tomorrow, when I get some time. Right now I have to go and hit the hay.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    I haven’t completely discounted Catherine Dulac’s idea about the existence of a switch mechanism that is connected to the dominant sensory modality

    My prediction:

    Starting with flies and mice, and then through sheep, monkeys and finally humans it’s gonna be a simple, hormonally controlled switch. Any day/month scientists will add another animal, a little higher up the food chain to the list. That’s my guess anyway. 8-)

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    If you’re interested in seeing Dulac’s published paper on the switch for sexually dimorphic behaviours in the female mouse, the link is here. The research paper is so thorough and suggestive that it’s awesome. You can actually see the switch diagram. Even if those results do not directly apply to humans, the idea still makes a lot of sense for mammals in general. Think about it: just like humans, female mice are the default foetal form. They are born with a brain that has circuits for both genders, but the olfactory switch suppresses the male-typical behaviours which are not useful in conjunction with a female body. The male foetus develops based on this default female foetus that already has the basic male circuitry (for aggression, thrusting, etc), but which needs to be activated by extra work done by male hormones (coming from the SRY gene on the Y chromosome). What regions exactly those male hormones need to target in order to fix the gender identity in the male foetus, that’s for researchers to zero in and for us to eventually find out. The rest of the brain could be incidentally masculinised without having as much to do with sexual behaviour as with other male-typical functions and behaviours.

  • Michael Bussee

    Can anyone direct me to the blog where people endlessly obsess and opine on the causes of heterosexuality?

  • Evan

    Michael,

    I have addressed more than one orientation in messages 108701, 108905, 109144, 109459 and 109638. I also second your question. It would be interesting to see research done by gay scientists on heterosexuality or even sites where gay people try to understand heterosexuality, technically speaking. Different perspectives can produce new unexpected results.

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    Can anyone direct me to the blog where people endlessly obsess and opine on the causes of heterosexuality?

    When scientists figure out SSA they will figure out OSA at the same time. It’s all part of the same thing.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    Right on! Thanks for the link to the study.

    I think you have it 100% correct. Female type instincts are useful in biologically female bodies so they get switched on. Of course the whole point is to spread genes.

    To me that’s one more reason the “gay gene survives because it boosts fertility in females” is a doomed concept.

    A) What other gene is that sexually antagonistic? There isn’t one such trait in humans that I’m aware of. Correct me if I’m wrong but the Italian scientists who built that mathematical model didn’t mention any comparable trait in humans. I think that speaks volumes.

    B) Women have MULTITUDES of genes that help them spread their DNA. Being attracted to men has to be one of the least important. In any case these traits are all turned off in men. Why wouldn’t this sexually antagonistic gene be turned off just like the other 1,000?

  • Michael Bussee

    Dorrwssap commented: “When scientists figure out SSA they will figure out OSA at the same time. It’s all part of the same thing.”

    Not so. Most people don’t care. They don’t even think of OSA (heterosexuality) as having a “cause” since they thnk of it as “normal”. “right”, “healthy” and “moral”.

    People obsess and opine about SSA (homosexuality) because they have already concluded that it is somehow broken, disordered, sinful, sick, abnormal, immoral, etc. This is prejudice, not science.

    Yes, I know there are some (very few) true scientists who approach homosexuality out of pure inlellectual curiousity, but they are the exception, not the rule. The people who trouble themselves with the “cause” of homosexuality are typically the same ones who, for religious reasons, think it can and should be repaired. The rest of us accept homosexuality as a natural human variation and get on with it.

  • Mary

    It is a natural variation. And one that can change. If a person is not comfortable with their same sex attraction, then let them discover ways to deal with it. You may not like that. But in so doing, we find out a lot about heterosexuality as well. That is just the way it is. People can conduct themselves however they chose. Homosexuality is not the majority of the population – so people look at what makes that small difference. Same as, what makes a genius child a genius.

  • Evan

    Can we go back to ‘it’s not a disorder, but we don’t know what it is or how it is caused’ and let scientists try to clarify a very important human dimension?

    Michael,

    Why are there so many gay researchers in the field of sexual orientation study? Do they have some hidden agenda if they are looking for a cause?

  • Michael Bussee

    I said there are exceptions.

  • Michael Bussee

    And Mary, no one thinks a genius is broken, sick or going to hell for it. As I have said many, many times before, I have NO PROBLEM with people who are unhappy being gay and want to deal with it. THAT IS THEIR RIGHT. How many times do I have to say that?

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    You’re welcome.

    The female fertility boosting hypothesis is logically circular. They propose an indirect evolutionary advantage that females might get from having homosexual males in their families, assuming that there must be at least two genes supporting the trait. After they define the mathematical models to account for their assumptions, they conclude that there are objective reasons for supporting the assumptions they built their hypothesis on.

    Women have MULTITUDES of genes that help them spread their DNA. Being attracted to men has to be one of the least important. In any case these traits are all turned off in men. Why wouldn’t this sexually antagonistic gene be turned off just like the other 1,000?

    If it’s an X-linked gene, it can get silencedin females and expressed in males who lack another copy on the Y chromosome. But this line of study has been put to trial so many times without conclusive results as yet that it’s not worth repeating until the Sanders genetic linkage study comes out.

    We don’t know yet whether sexual orientation has a significant genetic component, or whether the genetic component is more decisive than the presumed hormonal influence. Camperio Ciani’s argument is based on air right now, because no gene or set of genes is known to code for sexual orientation. Actually the more recent the research the less genetic the influences appear to be. The study we discussed here, by Savic and Lindstrom, points to a whole different picture, given that the similarities have been found across genders and sexual orientations, indicating possible hormonal effects.

    But there is also the newest study done by Langstrom and collegues, which argues that genetic factors take values within an 18-39% interval. So the genetic argument seems to be losing ground or to become dwarfed by other non-genetic factors.

  • Mary

    Wait – I don’t understand. So…. you’re saying that people can look into the issue for themselves because they think they can change – but they are not allowed to call it an aberation from the norm? How then can they begin to define what they are searching for if they can only define what they know through your terms?

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    The people who trouble themselves with the “cause” of homosexuality are typically the same ones who, for religious reasons, think it can and should be repaired. The rest of us accept homosexuality as a natural human variation and get on with it.

    Except for a few kooks I think pretty much everybody accepts homosexuality. Thankfully there aren’t too many people in the world who genuinely want to hurt other people.

    BUT…

    Forget morality and homosexuality for a minute because it’s too close to home.

    Think back and pretend you were a young, parent again. Your wife gives birth to a healthy, baby girl… but she has dwarfism. A doctor approaches you and says they have a procedure that can silence the dwarf gene and by the time she’s 5 years old she’ll look like every other girl. However before they can do this procedure the hospital has a policy that you need to get counseling from an advocate for the Dwarf community. You meet this person and he’s a good guy. He explains the important contributions that little people have made to society down through the ages. He also explains that Dwarfism is genetic and simply a natural human variation.

    What would you do? Embrace this natural variation and allow your daughter to develop as a dwarf? Do you go the other way and tell the doctor to silence your daughters dwarf gene?

    If you chose to silence the dwarf gene in your child does that automatically mean you hate dwarves or believe that tall people are superior? What I’m getting at is that just because scientists might find a way to understand SSA and ultimately turn it off doesn’t mean they hate gay people or believe it’s immoral.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    Camperio Ciani’s argument is based on air right now, because no gene or set of genes is known to code for sexual orientation.

    Agreed, but I think it’s even worse than that. The Italian study was nothing more than an exercise in algebra. Their research didn’t even have to apply to SSA. That equation could work for any sexually antagonistic trait. The reality is that no, common human trait is that sexually antagonistic. If there was one, the Italians would have mentioned it in their work. I’m certainly not aware of any.

    Example:

    A female bone structure is 1st rate at producing babies. However 2% to 4% of men don’t have one even if they could survive just fine with girl hips.

    Nothing works like that and worse yet Camperio Ciani knows it.

  • jayhuck

    Can anyone direct me to the blog where people endlessly obsess and opine on the causes of heterosexuality?

    LOL – I think it is the nature of the beast Michael – there are all kinds of people, on all kinds of blongs, opining in all kinds of ways about the nature of homosexuality – while all of us who are homosexual watch and smile ;)

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    I think that research must release the naked facts, no matter how uncomfortable that may be to each of us or to some of us. If the science of sexual orientation proves that male heterosexuality is the result of being, on an evolutionary scale, primarily aggressive, acquisitive, self-seeking, manipulative and lacking in awareness, I have no problem with that. Let the facts be known.

    Oh, I agree with you, the problem is they haven’t truly proven anything of the sort. The fact, however, is that you latch on quickly to incredibly anti-gay ideas, and then show a complete disregard for other equally valid explanations/possibilities, etc. It is interesting listening to you ;)

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    You keep saying ‘anti-gay’ ideas. What do you mean by that?

  • Evan

    Jayhuk,

    No, the question was what can you find in my messages that you think it’s ‘anti-gay’.

  • jayhuck

    Sorry – that’s probably not very helpful – you latch onto ideas that are not only degrading to gay people, but that always seem to paint gay people, gay couples, and gay families in a bad light. You also seem to completely ignore the fact that other anti-gay interpretations that try to explain the results of different studies.

    Anti-gay – without having a dictionary in my hands – is anything that disparages gay people, gay couples, or gay families. – a broad definition, yes – but also fairly accurate

  • jayhuck

    Let’s go for the textbook definition then:”

    Anything in your posts that:

    “Anti-gay can refer to activities which fall into any (or a combination) of these categories:

    * Prejudice in the forms of

    o Homophobia – a fear or hatred of or, more generically, antipathy toward homosexuals

    o Heterosexism – discrimination against and social intolerance toward homosexuals

    * In a political sense

    o An opposition to the perceived gay agenda, which can include same-sex marriage, gay rights and related topics.

    o Specific opposition to an LGBT issue or person.

    I’ll let you be the judge for now Evan – if you desire for something more specific, I’ll help you out with that after I’ve had a chance to sleep – buenos noches :)

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    All my messages start from arguments, not from ideologic premises. Do you label some of those ideas ‘anti-gay’ because there can rationally exist arguments like that? Is any rational argument that does not fit a partisan take on an issue anti-something? It’s like you argue for a priori impossibility of rational arguments that would not serve any given ideology.

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    I simply find it interesting that all your “arguments” seem to fit certain ideological premises – whether you claim they begin there or not – that’s all :)

  • jayhuck

    The issue isn’t that you seem to be a partial, objective scientific inquisitor, the issue is that your arguments and “ideas” have an obvious anti-gay bent. Your arguments are starting to look very biased :)

  • jayhuck

    Michael,

    I’ll reiterate what probably doesn’t need to be reiterated -

    There are all kinds of people on all kinds of blogs, postulating all kinds of things regarding the cause/origins of homosexuality – at some point, those of us who are homosexuals, just have to sit back and smile at all the activity – LOL :)

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary: Not that I have any power to grant “permissions”, but you are “allowed” to do and say whatever you want. Why do you persist in accusing me of saying or believing otherwise? I think I have made this point many, many, many times.

    You can call yourself whatever you want. You can define yourself however you choose. You can act on your lesbian feelings or decide not to. You can be celibate, completely promiscous or something in betweem.

    You can call yourself straight and/or make up your own personal defintion of any word in the dictionary. You can conceptualize “change” in any way that suits you. You can paint yourself with pink and green polka-dots and stand on your head naked in a public park for all I care.

    It’s not that I “like it” or don’t like it. It’s a free country. I personally do not like homosexuality referred to as illness, sickness, sin, disorder or brokeness — and I think it does great harm to many gay and lesbian people to be told that it is. But if you want to think of your gay feelings in these negative terms, knock yourself out.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    Your arguments are starting to look very biased

    Are you saying this because you don’t like where rational arguments can lead to and because you have no counterarguments? This is how it looks like. I haven’t seen you quoting references or refuting some proposed explanations by coming up with better ones. There’s nothing wrong with not doing it, but it doesn’t entitle you to dismiss other people’s efforts without addressing their arguments.

  • Ann

    Jayhuck,

    Your arguments are starting to look very biased

    This is what you said to Evan. Do you think your comments or arguments are any different? Calling someone anti-gay is a serious allegation and not helpful. Attack his arguments, not him.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    jayhuck – If you have some counter evidence to offer to Evan’s arguments then offer it. Ad hominems are not acceptable. If you have nothing to counter it besides that then, there is no need to offer a comment on this thread.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    A number of the last few comments have been off topic and have been deleted. Please comment on the topic or move on to something else.

  • jayhuck

    Warren,

    I countered Evan’s opinions with my own opinions – look like the thread may be dead anyway.

  • jayhuck

    Ann,

    I did attack his arguments :)

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    jayhuck – You provided opinion but did not provide any evidence for it that I could see. Evan provided links and studies with commentary. If you have a response to the studies that counter the findings, then please use evidence from studies. Otherwise, just saying I dont agree with you doesn’t add much to a conversation.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Evan – I agree that the maternal studies right now are “what ifs.” The Sanders and UCLA studies are well designed and will likely provide us with a clearer picture.

  • Evan

    A very interesting study was published today. Maybe the nexus with this study related to sexual orientation is a bit too general, but there are some telling similarities.

    The news can be found on ScienceDaily under the title: ‘Severe Shyness? New Study Shows That Anxiety Is Likely A Long-lasting Trait.’

    Briefly — a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied brain activity in relation to anxious temperament. They found greater amygdala activation across many environments, even where the subjects felt safe. This is similar to what Savic and Lindstrom found in heterosexual female and homosexual male brains when the subjects were lying in a resting state and breathing. Let’s not forget the Safron et al. (2007) study, in which gay men’s brains showed greater amygdala activation than straight men’s brains on three different stimuli tests.

    This pattern of activation that supports anxious temperament involved a neural circuit that was already known from studies on stress and anxiety: the amygdala, the bed nucleus of stria terminalis (BSTc), the bilateral hippocampus, and the periaqueductal gray (PAG). People who are familiar with the literature on sexually dimorphic brain regions probably remember that the BSTc was reported to be smaller in females and that the same pattern was observed in transsexuals. Another interesting thing I remember, but which is very rarely mentioned about the PAG is that it is involved in the female lordosis behaviour.

    Something is atypically sensitive or insensitive in the amygdala in both sexes of the same homosexual orientation. My intuition tells me that it’s not just an isolated predisposition but also a correlation with another area that modulates aggressiveness and which in typical patterns of activation acts as a buffer to incoming stimuli, a sensory gating mechanism. Deficits in sensory gating have been known to predispose to a number of disorders involving different neural networks that included the amygdala. In homosexual women, a male-typical pattern might point to similarly expressed and modulated aggressiveness that reflects on the way the amygdala is activated and connected to other regions.

    OK, I am considering getting a second degree… ;P

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  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton//2008/11/23/new-study-casts-doubt-on-older-brother-hypothesis-and-reparative-drive-theory/#comments carole

    This is an old thread, but I didn’t know where to put this and since it has to do, in part, with the etiology of SSA, I chose this thread. on which to put it. I hope it doesn’t get lost.

    I am wondering: This study I link below was begun years ago, yet I can find no record of its findings. Is this is the study to which Greg Cochran (he of the “germ theory” hypothesis) told the readers of the Gene Expression blog that Blanchard ( I guess he is a researcher in the field?) asked for the HLA types of the SSA brothers and “the bastards wouldn’t give them to him”?

    Anyone know anything about the findings of this study? Perhaps I am Google-inept today, but something seems very odd.

    http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?cond=%22Homosexuality%22

    I

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