Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Pheromones and sexual orientation

A brain imaging study just published yesterday suggests that gay men's brains respond to putative pheromones similarly to straight women's brains, but differently from straight men's brains. Here's the NY Times' write-up:
The two chemicals in the study were a testosterone derivative produced in men's sweat and an estrogen-like compound in women's urine, both of which have long been suspected of being pheromones.

Most odors cause specific smell-related regions of the human brain to light up when visualized by a form of brain imaging that tracks blood flow in the brain and therefore, by inference, sites where neurons are active. Several years ago, Dr. Savic and colleagues showed that the two chemicals activated the brain in a quite different way from ordinary scents.

The estrogen-like compound, though it activated the usual smell-related regions in women, lighted up the hypothalamus in men. This is a region in the central base of the brain that governs sexual behavior and, through its control of the pituitary gland lying just beneath it, the hormonal state of the body.

The male sweat chemical, on the other hand, did just the opposite; it activated mostly the hypothalamus in women and the smell-related regions in men. The two chemicals seemed to be leading a double life, playing the role of odor with one sex and of pheromone with another.

The Swedish researchers have now repeated the experiment but with the addition of gay men as a third group. The gay men responded to the two chemicals in the same way as did women, Dr. Savic reports, as if the hypothalamus's response is determined not by biological sex but by the owner's sexual orientation.
I'd first like to point out that this study tells us exactly zero about whether male sexuality is innate, learned, a choice, or anything like that. This study is not about nature v. nurture. As I've noted before, a biological basis for behavior is very different from a genetic or innate cause for behavior. All behaviors are somehow mediated by the brain, so there must be something happening in the brain that is correlated with behavior - it's just a question of developing methods sensitive enough to detect it, which is why cognitive neuroscience has only exploded in the last decade. Happily, the NY Times article recognizes this and goes into as much depth with it as one might hope for in a newspaper article.

One objection that Charles Todd has over at Majikthise is that the NY Times article presents the result as "gay men's brains are like women's brains" rather than "gay men's brains are like straight women's brains." Luckily, the scientific article is careful to specify that gay men's brains behaved like straight women's brains. (Sexual orientation appears to have been assessed by interview / self-report via the Kinsey scale.) Now, the most intuitively appealing result would be if lesbians' brains behaved like straight men's brains in response to these pheromones, but of course science is never so simple:
Dr. Savic said that she had also studied gay women, but that the data were "somewhat complicated" and not yet ready for publication.
So it's not the researchers who are falling prey to the "gay man = woman" fallacy, but the NY Times (seriously - how hard is it to add the adjective "straight" into the lede?). [By the way, I love the euphemism "somewhat complicated."]

On one level, the study isn't very surprising at all in terms of sexual orientation. Imagine if someone did a study showing beautiful male faces and beautiful female faces to subject and showed that gay men and straight women had their "sexual attraction" brain areas activated when viewing beautiful male faces, whereas straight men had the same brain areas activated when viewing beautiful female faces. Not so interesting.

What's interesting is, rather, that these chemicals seem to be acting as pheromones, when people thought that humans didn't respond to pheromones (because the relevant sensory organ in other mammals, the vomeronasal organ, is largely inactive in humans). And even this was shown almost 4 years ago comparing just straight men and straight women - it's just that the finding that responses are different for gay and straight men provides additional support for the theory that they are pheromones.

See Rob Helpy-Chalk for some more intelligent dissection of this study.

Update: The BBC brings more news about pheromones - apparently there has been another study showing that
The preferences of gay men were strikingly different from those of heterosexual men and women, and lesbian women. Gay men preferred the odours of other gay men, and heterosexual women. The smell of gay men were the least liked by heterosexual men and women, and lesbians.
So maybe this is how gaydar works??

Seriously though, again I'd like to point out that the conclusion that "gender preference has a biological component" (as the lead author of this second study says) is very different from the conclusion that gender preference has an innate component. [NB - I have been unable to find the scientific article - I think it hasn't been published yet.]

Interestingly, the BBC article does make the distinction between "women" and "heterosexual women" that the NY Times missed out on.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am bisexual

explain to me why I like both? why I find both sexes attractive? do I have equal hormones? do I have male and female brains?

once again ,,,the bi person overrides the world of science

5/09/2006 04:36:00 AM  
Anonymous pheromone - feromon said...

pheromones -


3/15/2008 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous air dissecant said...

black mold exposureblack mold symptoms of exposurewrought iron garden gatesiron garden gates find them herefine thin hair hairstylessearch hair styles for fine thin hairnight vision binocularsbuy night vision binocularslipitor reactionslipitor allergic reactionsluxury beach resort in the philippines

afordable beach resorts in the philippineshomeopathy for eczema.baby eczema.save big with great mineral makeup bargainsmineral makeup wholesalersprodam iphone Apple prodam iphone prahacect iphone manualmanual for P 168 iphonefero 52 binocularsnight vision Fero 52 binocularsThe best night vision binoculars here

night vision binoculars bargainsfree photo albums computer programsfree software to make photo albumsfree tax formsprintable tax forms for free craftmatic air bedcraftmatic air bed adjustable info hereboyd air bedboyd night air bed lowest pricefind air beds in wisconsinbest air beds in wisconsincloud air beds

best cloud inflatable air bedssealy air beds portableportables air bedsrv luggage racksaluminum made rv luggage racksair bed raisedbest form raised air bedsaircraft support equipmentsbest support equipments for aircraftsbed air informercialsbest informercials bed airmattress sized air beds

bestair bed mattress antique doorknobsantique doorknob identification tipsdvd player troubleshootingtroubleshooting with the dvd playerflat panel television lcd vs plasmaflat panel lcd television versus plasma pic the bestThe causes of economic recessionwhat are the causes of economic recessionadjustable bed air foam The best bed air foam

hoof prints antique equestrian printsantique hoof prints equestrian printsBuy air bedadjustablebuy the best adjustable air bedsair beds canadian storesCanadian stores for air beds

migraine causemigraine treatments floridaflorida headache clinicdrying dessicantair drying dessicantdessicant air dryerpediatric asthmaasthma specialistasthma children specialistcarpet cleaning dallas txcarpet cleaners dallascarpet cleaning dallas

5/08/2008 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous mirc said...


seks hikayeleri
sex izle
porno izle

6/01/2008 04:07:00 AM  
Blogger Disney Movies said...

Hotels in cappadocia
Turkey cappadocia tours
cappadoica hotels
cappadocia tours
cappadocia balloons
cappadocia map
cappadocia balloon
Cappadocia Travel agency
Cappadocia tour
Istanbul Hotel
Istanbul Tour
Istanbul F1 Tour

Disney Movies 2008
Disney Movies
Disney Dining Plan
Disney Guide
Disney World
Disney Movie

Celebrity Photos
Celebrity Wallpapers
Alina Vacariu
Yolanthe Cabau van Kasbergen
Sophie Howard
Lucy Pinder
Amanda Harrington

Disney Pictures
Disney Wallpapers
Disney Images
Walt Disney Pictures
Minnie Mouse pictures
Mickey Mouse pictures
Donald Duck pictures
Daisy Duck pictures

Football Pictures
Football Wallpapers
Football Team Pictures
Roberto Carlos
Football Caricatures

6/30/2008 09:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sex izle
porno forum
bedava porno
seks film
porno videolar
Yetişkin video
sex film izle
erotik filim
erotik oyun
Ateşli videolar
sex Porno
ateşli film
erotik hikaye
porn tube
sexy woman
sexy bikini
free porn
adult tube
Sıcak videolar
porno film
sex film
porno video izle
yetişkin porno filmler
yetişkin videolar

Yeni Oyunlar
Bedava Oyunlar
Filim izle
indirmeden izle
Sıcak Video
Komik Videolar
Film Seyret
Dizi izle
Sinema izle
video izle
film izle
filim izle
komik videolar

adult forum
yeni oyunlar
yemek oyunu
kız oyunları
makyaj yap
iyi oyunlar
seks izle

7/06/2008 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous bearshare said...

realy good

8/11/2008 05:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cialis is a revolutionary drug used to treat erectile dysfunction in men of all ages. Cialis is very well tolerated by almost everyone and effectively treats most of the sexual disorders but since it has some side effects too it should be taken only under the guidance of a doctor. http://www.buy-cialis-online-now.com

4/08/2009 10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Generic Viagra has helped millions of men with erectile dysfunction achieve improved erections. This pill is shown to help men get and keep an erection for successful intercourse.

1/30/2010 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger reggiewhite said...

Generic Cialis is used to increase blood flow to certain areas of the body, as a muscle relaxant and as a male impotence or erectile dysfunction treatment.

2/19/2010 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger reggiewhite said...

Generic Cialis is used to increase blood flow to certain areas of the body, as a muscle relaxant and as a male impotence or erectile dysfunction treatment.

2/19/2010 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger johnnysmith said...

Generic Cialis is slightly different from the other erectile drugs available in the market as it may work up to 36 hrs after dosing. Generic Levitra orks along with sexual stimulation to help achieve an erection when taken 30 to 60 minutes before sexual activity.

4/10/2010 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger gokhan.clskn said...

film izle film izle
erotik film izle erotik film izle
online Film izle online film izle
erotik izle erotik izle

4/16/2010 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Generic Viagra improves erections for most men no matter how long they have had erectile dysfunction, taken approximately 30 minutes before your plan of sexual activity and works on stimulation for around 4 hours.

4/24/2010 10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bing - Buy Viagra Online - Viagra

6/01/2010 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger donmadanfilmizle said...

thanks for sharing
Donmadan Film izle

6/17/2010 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

film izle
direk film izle
indirmeden film izle
online film izle
film seyret
yabancı film izle
video izle

7/01/2010 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous evden eve nakliyat said...

while natal seems cool and http://www.evdenevenakliyatsec.com all , why rename xbox 360 to xbox natal ? seems pretty dumb to me. they should just call the package natal like the elite package you can get http://www.evdenevenakliye.us if they are making a new http://www.cagdasnakliye.com console it should play blu-rays. and if natal is as big as a console release does that mean it will get a console price? so i'm guessing we can expect natal to be any where from 150-300$

7/20/2010 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger ibineyazari said...

nice sharing, thanks for sharing.

film izle

7/22/2010 03:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great blog! By the way, if you are looking for cheap certified online ED pharmacy this information could be important for you:
Millions of men take benefits from Viagra. Read more about Viagra online. Viagra works effectively in amiable, moderate or undecorated Erectile Dysfunction.
Viagra improves erections for most men no matter how long they have had erectile dysfunction. Viagra online pharmacy. Brand and generic medications are available!
Generic Viagra is a need based pill. It should be taken only when you plan to indulge in sexual activity. Taken Viagra approximately 30 minutes before your plan sexual activity it will work on stimulation for around 4 hours. Order Generic pharmacy online from a certified generic drug pharmacy. Lowest prices on both generic and brand medications. Big discounts, fast and free worldwide shipping!

8/18/2010 09:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Komedi Filmleri said...


Very good site ! thank you nice article. Thanks for sharing.

8/31/2010 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The latter, Web 2.0, is not defined as a static architecture. Web 2.0 can be generally characterized as a common set of architecture and design patterns, which can be implemented in multiple contexts. bu sitede en saglam pornolar izlenir.The list of common patterns includes the Mashup, Collaboration-Participation, Software as a Service (SaaS), Semantic Tagging (folksonomy), and Rich User Experience (also known as Rich Internet Application) patterns among others. These are augmented with themes for software architects such as trusting your users and harnessing collective intelligence. Most Web 2.0 architecture patterns rely on Service Oriented Architecture in order to function

11/03/2010 01:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

download videos

12/17/2010 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Sonat said...

Thanks a lot
film izle
indirmeden film izle
sinema izle
bedava film izle
online film izle
film seyret
hd film izle
erotik film izle
video google
video izle
hoş sözler
güzel sözler
anlamlı sözler
aşk sözleri
özlü sözler
güzel sözler

2/04/2011 07:07:00 PM  
Anonymous kaycee said...

YOU have a great post here. Pheromones are what drives us to act this way. What is more interesting in the post is that because if the pheromones, you can have a female face with a male body.

Stretch Mark Removal Creams

5/20/2011 01:16:00 AM  
Blogger eula_w said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/21/2011 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger hd kalitesinde dizi said...

hd film izle
erotik film izle
hd film
film izle
film izle hd

9/20/2011 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger ferhat yıldız said...

film izle

10/08/2011 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger eula_w said...

Great read on this article you have shared in here. Thanks.

women pheromones

11/23/2011 03:23:00 AM  
Anonymous adana oto kiralama said...

Hi, your article has helped me a lot in researching on this topic.

11/28/2011 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger sinema filmleri said...

erotik film izle
hd film
film izle
film izle hd

11/13/2012 01:24:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home