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back to article Lesbians like straight men, researchers find

A study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm has provided strong evidence that sexuality is a biologically fixed trait demonstrated in physical brain differences, New Scientist reports. Specifically, key brain structures in homosexuals which govern "mood, anxiety and aggressiveness" resemble those in heterosexuals of the …

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Gold badge

@ Bring on the cure

One word:

Gattica.

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Insufficient data...

Sample is too small, analysis is too weak. Sounds almost as bad as the study that strapped electrodes to genitals, played them porn, then made conclusions based on how they responded.

The point on mental health is also rubbish. Straight women are affected more than straight men, Gay men more than straight women, Lesbians more than gay men and bisexuals of both sexes more than any of them - pity that we blow their theories out of the water, isn't it?

Damn ride a brain surgery cure should be denied. It's one thing if there could be a pill that shifted sexual orientation (although the mental knock on effects are likely to be nasty - you don't just instantly acclimatise to your sexual preferences changing), but we're talking about dangerous and unreliable surgery.

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IT Angle

@Bring on the cure

Gattica? There's an 'i' nucleotide now? Ah, the IT angle!

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Minimise Free Energy

So, there's a set of matrices for the chance of 'copping-off' depending on the details of the 'src' and 'dest' (according to this study!)

I want to know the details so I can perform an extensive search for a new gf... (Hopefully she'll turn out to be lesbian, but I trust the maths... I suppose if its a guy then I'll get to put my a*** where my mouth is...)

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Coat

Statistical significance has nothing to do with one's predilictions

A sample size of 20 could be quite representative. No one can tell either way from an article in the popular press. As to statistics (complained about by an earlier commenter--who seemed more interested in sticking to beliefs rather than openly considering new information), popular press articles are always a lousy place to judge scientific merit and statistical significance. Doesn't have anything to do with the subject of the article. If an individual is really interested in the statistical basis of scientific results reported in the popular press, he or she can go to the source, in this case the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" either online or in a decent library at a research University and assess the scientific results directly. Scientific results are always a matter of public record, just depends if one wants to make the effort (which admittedly can be substantial) of analyzing the record--but unwillingness to make the effort does not invalidate scientific results. Significant sample size depends not on one's predispositions, but on the level of variation represented by the phenomena one is studying. It also depends on how representative a sample is of the population one is studying. A sample size of 7 individuals may be significant in some cases, while in other cases a sample size of 100 might generate indeterminate results.

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IT Angle

Devil's advocate

And cancer is natural, and actually so is murder...... wow that really was devilish. But seriously... It's all just perspective.

The only time something is a disease (or a sin) is when someone doesn't like it. And is so, only to those who don't like it.

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Joke

@Bring on the cure

Why, what can Robert Smith do in this instance

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IT Angle

Errr... but aren't they assuming something here?

They appear to be assuming that the brain structure of these (presumably) adult test subjects is the same as what they were built with.

Is there any research that confirms this? Especially as it has been shown that those with severe brain injury (from birth) build non standard brain structuures which often appear to function quite normally. And some patients make recovery from quite serious stroke which almost certainly involves brain function migrating to undamaged regions.

So while the study may be interesting and informative it does not tell us if the brain structure is the result or the cause of the sexuality. It does suggest - from a small sample - that there is a suprising degree of correlation BUT it may not tell us anything about causality.

Eg. Many footballers have dodgy knees or feet. We know that these probably result from their lifestyle choices - having a bad knee is not a pre-requisite for playing. Conversely it may be that a "sporting" knee is actually more fragile than that of less able person - or it may only be the stresses of the sports activity that cause the damage. Anything like this is hard "prove" since an individual can have only one life and so you cannot really comparison test things. That is why identical twins are so popular in medical studies.

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Coat

Amygdala?

Isn't that the princess in Star Wars Episode 1?

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Anonymous Coward

Title

Beeb headline: " Scans see 'gay brain differences'"

El Reg headline: "Lesbians like straight men"

Guess which one I read? ;)

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Coat

Alanis

Couple of quick OT points.. ;-)

Something that was pointed out to me (I'm not that sharp): If a guy makes a statement that he REALLY likes Alanis Morisette odds are he's gay. Didn't believe it, but it has turned out to be a frighteningly accurate Alpha Indicator.

Second one, isn't it Ironic that nothing in the song is actually Ironic? They're all simply unfortunate. Thanks to Eddie Izzard for pointing that one out, a man aparrently with a VERY large brain!

Posted anonymously because I live in a red meat eating, Gawdphjeering redneck country where guns are legal but fireworks are not. On grounds of safety I might add..

I'll get me coat.

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Asymmetry

'The results showed that straight chaps boasted asymmetric brains, "with the right hemisphere slightly larger", something they shared with lesbians.'

'Gay men, however, demonstrated symmetrical brains, in common with straight women.'

So what they're saying is that anyone who fancies women has a wonky brain.

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Paris Hilton

So,let's get this straight...

...if you'll pardon the expression. This means, from the perspective of their brains at any rate, that homosexuals are actually lesbians and lesbians are actually homosexuals? No wonder they're confused 'cause I sure as hell am;). Will the islanders of Lesbos be happy with the discovery though?

Paris, 'cause her brain is definintely in the right body;).

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Coat

@brainwog

No what they're saying is, contrary to what this post says:

"By Anonymous Coward

Posted Tuesday 17th June 2008 11:24 GMT

"The results showed that straight chaps boasted asymmetric brains, "with the right hemisphere slightly larger", something they shared with lesbians.

Gay men, however, demonstrated symmetrical brains, in common with straight women."

The logical conclusion there is that those of us who are bi-sexual have generally larger brains overall than the rest of the population?

Icon Choice?... Because it's my brain is not my only 'larger than average' organ....<sorry />...Mine's the lab coat."

Homosexuals have smaller brains than both straight men and lesbians;).

Mine is my coat of smug, heterosexual superiority;).

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Coat

@ SB - Re: Oh Sarah, Don't let her steal your heart away

Good && !Grief

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Jim
Happy

title

Re: Let me get this straight

"... Also, if lesbians are men trapped in a women's bodies, shouldn't they seek out straight women?"

I seem to remember Quentin Crisp commenting that he always dreamed of having sexual relationships with straight men but also realised that this was obviously impossible. Or something like that anyway.

Re: @Bring on the cure

Well if he could rid us of Mecha-Streisand...

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Anonymous Coward

Lesbians are like straight men ..

Shouldn't that be Lesbians act like straight men .. :)

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Thumb Down

the research is a joke and bias.

You take a brain already formed it path is like a PC programmed the way doing thing then use it to prove it's that the way should be.

Bare in mind, research found, Children from infant to toddles are not much difference between boy and girl. Meaning they could be program as boy or as girl regardless physical by nature.

The gay research result are all a big joke in scientific world.

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Boffin

Better description

People who are attracted to men have one kind of brain structure.

People who are attracted to women have a different kind of brain structure.

Gay/straight isn't really relevant.

The APA considers homosexuality to be a problem if the person concerned is disturbed by it. So some sort of biology-based 'cure' could be useful.

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Coat

Great

Let's scan kids' brains to find out what their sexual orientation is before they're in middle school, to avoid that 'awkward discovery' phase.

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@Michael: "cure" for lefties

Just go look-up the root of "sinister" if you want to understand the historical response to left handedness... I reckon the mediaeval neurosurgeons would have been right in there if they'd found one!

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Anonymous Coward

When I want to read fiction, I turn to works of biology—I like my fiction wild!

I will give any lesbian one hundred dollars in cash who signs an affidavit declaring that she personally likes men!

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Bronze badge

Oh-My-God.

Where does all this leave the gay male who also fancies straight women ?

And what about the bi-married-women ?

And where does it say anything about red-headed bi males who are married to bi-blond-women ?

I'm confused.

Something to do with both sides of my brain doing the same thing at the same time ?

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Unhappy

Bisexuality

I am disappointed in the lack of attention or even acknowledgement of bisexuality by the researchers. That would be very insightful.

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Anonymous Coward

Argument against a cure is proof a cure is needed.

"If it does turn out to be the case that homosexuality is genetically predetermined, then not only is it shown to be natural, but rather than object on the basis that it is then 'curable', the question for society becomes whether they still believe that homo-sapiens should be uniform (most of us don't) or whether diversity is more valuable and indeed, the natural order of things."

What a pathetic argument - probably the product of a female-type brain, if the complete lack of logic is anything to go by....

According to your "argument", we get:

Downs Syndrome is "genetically predetermined", it is therefore "natural", therefore we should insult and denigrate any researcher who tries to "cure" Downs Syndrome.

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Black Helicopters

Which way do I go?

Well, I get on with straight men, but I don't have any male bffs. Sorry.

I also use deodorant, moisturiser and perfume, don't adjust parts of my anatomy in public, and don't much fancy bimbos with fake boobs and trowelled-on makeup. You guys can have your Page 3 babes.

AC with your 100 dollar offer, c'mon then. I like straight men a heck of a lot better than a lot of straight women do. I don't have to shag 'em or live with them (well, I do live with one... as a flatmate).

...And I'd agree with the comments about bisexual people seemingly missing from the equation here. And since most theory agrees that most of us are more or less bi, maybe they've just been measuring people at the absolute extremes in that study... who won't be representative of much.

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Coat

Ow!

My brain hurts.

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Silver badge

Re: Re: Re: (...ad infinitum) Headline

>Lesbians like straight men

You mean, as opposed to bent ones?

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the lesbians like me and i like them too

i have always suspected that homosexuality has somthing to do with lesbians....

on a more serious note, attraction is a basic instinct, if you had the instincts of the opposite sex than surley it stands to reason that you brain my be "different" because thats where these instincts come from.

but there are those that still choose to be gay, because they feel like they want to belong to somthing. (or some crap like that)

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Alert

Something doesn't add up

> Savic and Lindström put a group of 90 volunteers through the MRI scanner -

> 25 heterosexuals and 20 homosexuals of each gender

Am I missing something here, or doesn't that imply they sampled 3 1/4 genders?

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Stop

@Let me get this straight

Anonymous Coward wrote:

"If lesbians think like straight men and like each other, does that infer that straight men are attracted to each other? Also, if lesbians are men trapped in a women's bodies, shouldn't they seek out straight women?

Doubtless its all very scientific, just not as logical as I had hoped..."

As the research by Savic and Lindström suggests, I think the best way to look at sexual orientation is as follows. Men and women who have a particular brain structure (i.e., straight men and homosexual women) are sexually attracted to women. Not straight women or homosexual women; just women in general. By the same token, men and women who have the other kind of brain structure in question (i.e., straight women and homosexual men) are sexually attracted to men. Not straight men or homosexual men; just men. It doesn't matter which gender they are, or who they think they should be attracted to; brain structure is the key.

As you can see in these comments, plenty of straight men are attracted to homosexual women as well as heterosexual women. People are attracted to other people's bodies, not their brains, so the other person's sexual orientation (i.e., the other person's brain structure) doesn't matter when it comes to sexual attraction. If you try to create a set of rules such as, "Homosexual women should only be attracted to homosexual women" or "Straight men should only be attracted to straight women," you will only get yourself confused, and you will be wrong.

The question arises, are people born with the idea that men should be attracted to women, and women should be attracted to men, or is that sort of belief the product of upbringing and cultural conditioning? Is it possible for a society to change that sort of attitude for good, or is it a natural instinct that we must constantly reckon with?

Other research has shown that, as a general rule, children will not fall in love with other children who have grown up in the same household with them (regardless of biological parenthood). It seems to be "hard coded". Perhaps a similar attitude about what to expect of other people's sexual orientation is also "hard coded". In that case, you cannot blame the Bible thumpers for it (although they can certainly make things worse).

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Heart

Nurture vs. Nature

I love all my friends, but wouldn't want to sleep with them. Well, maybe *some* of them... ;)

This article is right on track. The idea that homosexuality is a "choice" is ludicrous. The main benefit of sexual reproduction is a further mingling of genes and their resulting behavior, allowing for greater diversity and chance of survival for future generations.

Since all mammals start out as female, and reproduction is not a perfect process, it's not at all surprising that mistakes creep in. And since it's the male which determines gender, that means once again we men are at fault.

Biologically speaking, being gay is no different from having a club foot, or poor eyesight. It's a genetic malfunction, plain and simple.

That doesn't mean the affected people are any more or less proper or good. It just means their internal wiring went a little haywire. From the start, at conception.

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One to File

Under 'Hmm.... interesting..'

I too would like to see a larger study to include those people who consider themselves to be bisexual...

Also of interest btw is that Dutch research (again a small sample size) showed that the brain structure of male to female transsexuals more closely resembled that of women rather than men.

What's also interesting is that being transgendered does not appear to affect sexuality

There's a paradox there somewhere.....

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Anonymous Coward

The fact that we would all eventually die out...

...if everyone was gay suggests to me its not that natural.

Remember, there are two parts to "diversity" and "natural selection" etc - some of the "diverse" are winners, the others are losers. The losers die out. Which, if it weren't for adoption, or genetic engineering etc, is what would happen to homosexuals.

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@Pearson

"The idea that homosexuality is a "choice" is ludicrous."

Oh really? What do you think of the fashion statement among teenagers of declaring yourself gay, depending on who's the current pop icon? It's your actions which define who you are... And what about bisexuals? They have no choice to have the choice between men and women?

When someone will publish an article showing difference in the brain of tories and labour people, will you say that the idea of political orientation being a choice is ludicrous?

By the way, the article never implied anything was genetic. It might be a trait acquired in the womb.

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Go

@ratfox

ratfox wrote:

"When someone will publish an article showing difference in the brain of tories and labour people, will you say that the idea of political orientation being a choice is ludicrous?"

I don't know about Pearson, but I would say "yes" in answer to your question.

Back in September 2007, there was an article published in the journal Nature Neuroscience which reported the results of an experiment performed by scientists at New York University and UCLA. They found that political orientation is affected by the way the brain processes information. For example, they found that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives, which results in a more liberal mindset. In other words, there is a simple neurobiological explanation why conservatives are so single-minded and liberals are so open-minded (or fuzzy-minded, if you prefer). Look it up if you want more details. I think it reinforces the notion that people can't help the way they are.

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Boffin

"genetic malfunction"

"Biologically speaking, being gay is no different from having a club foot, or poor eyesight. It's a genetic malfunction, plain and simple."

Even though it wasn't the point of the original article, yes, some homosexuality is undoubtedly genetic.

Sexual differentiation within a species is represented as a kind of double bell-curve, with the two peaks representing each of the sexes. Some individuals fall in the central valley between the peaks, and these are individuals whose sexual differentiation is ambiguous: eg women with facial hair, men without facial hair, etc.... with those in the dead centre being the hermaphrodites and other serious freaks.

So, in a sexually differentiated species, it is indeed quite normal and natural for a very small number of individuals to display ambiguous sexual characteristics.

On the other hand, some homosexuality is undoubtedly learned behaviour - if you are molested at an early enough age, it will affect your choices for life.

And for some, it's simply a rather tasteless fashion statement.

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But...

It's interesting but what does it all mean?

Brain symmetry and asymmetry. It seems to me like saying all those with straight noses have more in common with each other than those without.

Lesbians, gay men, straight women and straight men are all totally different no matter what symmetry or dys-symmetry there is in their brains

This research draws or infers conclusions that I don't think are valid

Webmaster

http://www.moviesforlesbians.com/Movielist.html

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Re: Re: Re: @Sarah Bee

http://xkcd.com/436/

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