Friday, June 02, 2006

Human pheromone (sexual attractant) candidates act differently on areas of the hypothalamus regulating sexual behavior in gay men and lesbian women.

I could recast the wording, but think this abstract of a recent paper from Savic and collaborators, published in Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., makes the point. Links are to the two relevant articles. Yet another antidote to anti-gay "homosexuality is a choice" conservatives who want to deny the biological basis of homosexualtiy

"The progesterone derivative 4,16-androstadien-3-one (AND) and the estrogen-like steroid estra-1,3,5(10),16-tetraen-3-ol (EST) are candidate compounds for human pheromones. In previous positron emission tomography studies, we found that smelling AND and EST activated regions primarily incorporating the sexually dimorphic nuclei of the anterior hypothalamus, that this activation was differentiated with respect to sex and compound, and that homosexual men processed AND congruently with heterosexual women rather than heterosexual men. These observations indicate involvement of the anterior hypothalamus in physiological processes related to sexual orientation in humans. We expand the information on this issue in the present study by performing identical positron emission tomography experiments on 12 lesbian women. In contrast to heterosexual women, lesbian women processed AND stimuli by the olfactory networks and not the anterior hypothalamus. Furthermore, when smelling EST, they partly shared activation of the anterior hypothalamus with heterosexual men. These data support our previous results about differentiated processing of pheromone-like stimuli in humans and further strengthen the notion of a coupling between hypothalamic neuronal circuits and sexual preferences."

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