Monday 6 June 2011

The Cerebral Nature of Sexual Orientation

Preamble: Unusually in this blog I have directly linked to my references within the text rather than provide separate source material. The rights of the publishers of the information reference are fully acknowledged and respected.

Sexuality and Beliefs

The matter of sexuality and sexual orientation causes all sorts of discourse from intelligent and understanding to prejudiced and bigoted.

Different religions find all sorts of political advantage in being able to trot out some verse, creed, rule, law or doctrine that galvanises their supposedly just and holy right to castigate and condemn, effectively excluding others from their following.

It is interesting however to see how advances in knowledge, science and medicine have remedied heretofore abominable and somewhat incurable conditions which called for separation, ostracism or even judgement by reason of the fact that those things were not understood to any objective detail at those times.

Knowledge debunking fallacies

The clash of the ancient and modern still persists as ancient morals are used to constrain modern thinking even as science helps explain in quantifiable, qualitative and empirical research, those things that the ancients killed outliers for and just a few centuries ago religious leaders excommunicated thinkers for logically challenging the basis of long-held beliefs bordering on fallacy that engendered the preponderance of corrupt ruling classes.

Anengiyefa on his Things I feel strong about blog references one such study, following the links and references gets us to an article in Medical News Today titled Homo Or Hetero? The Neurobiological Dimension Of Sexual Orientation.

Dr. Jerome Goldstein at 21st Meeting of the European Neurological Society (ENS) in Lisbon states, “Sexual orientation is not a matter of choice, it is primarily neurobiological at birth, there are undeniable links. We want to make them visible to the eye.”

Difference in the brains

He goes on to say, “Using volumetric studies, there have been findings of significant cerebral amygdala size differences between homosexual and heterosexual subjects. Sex dimorphic connections were found among homosexual participants in these studies.

The last paragraph is almost inscrutable but it suggests that the parts of the brain have a primary role in the processing and memory of emotional reactions.

From a medical perspective Dr. Goldstein refers to a 2008 work of Dr. Ivanka Savic-Berglund and Dr. Per Lindström of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden where using MRI and PET scans they found differences in cerebral asymmetry and functional connectivity between homo- and heterosexual subjects. [Abstract][Full PDF]

It is nature not nurture

However, science has an uphill task against religion and preconceptions where many believe sexual orientation is determined by nurture and not by nature, but then there was a time when the earth was considered flat until someone dared to circumnavigate the world.

Interestingly, these kinds of studies of neurological differences go back as far as 1992 in one titled, Sexual orientation and the size of the anterior commissure in the human brain [Full PDF] where the findings suggested The midsagittal plane (a vertical plane through the midline of the body; divides the body into right and left halves) of the anterior commissure (a bundle of nerve fibres – white matter; connecting the two cerebral hemispheres across the midline, and placed in front of the columns of the fornix) in homosexual men was 18% larger than in heterosexual women and 34% larger than in heterosexual men.

Religious cranial surgery?

Considering these significant differences it becomes rather interesting when aversion therapies and ex-gay movements are portending to change the structure of the brain as science now makes evident such that their stated intent is to change homosexuals into heterosexuals on the premise that homosexuals have made a lifestyle choice is false, atrocious and mendacious at best.

I’ll rather trust a neurosurgeon with a scalpel to my head than have some religionist attempt to surgically rearrange my white and grey matter through suspect methods completely ignorant and oblivious of the physical structure and workings of the brain. We might well call in the brain whisperer.

Neuroscience or difficult conformity

Unfortunately, societal mores buttressed by fundamentalist religious attitudes fuels homophobic propaganda and whilst it is probably easier in certain societies to naturally espouse your sexuality and identity, it remains troublesome in other seemingly conservative and impressionably strident societies that people will rather conform to a double-life of public heterosexuality and secret satisfaction of the natural homosexual trait.

Dr. Goldstein concludes, “Neuroscience has much to offer in the area of understanding the origins of all variations of sexual orientation. The neurobiology of sexual orientation and the gay brain, matched with other hormonal, genetic, and structural studies, has far-reaching consequences beyond sexual orientation.

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