Posted by Ishpreet Bindra on June 19, 2008

Researchers in Sweden seem to have finally zeroed in on the reasons behind a person, being a gay. The differences lie in the structural makeup of the brain, which decides the sexual tendencies in people.

In a very interesting research, scientists at the Karolinska Institute, when studied 90 gay and straight men and women, via brain scans, the following facts came to light –

• Brain sizes of men and women are different. This is known to all. However, the scientists found that the sizes of the two symmetrical halves of gay men resembled closely to those of straight women, rather than straight men.

• In straight women the size of both the hemispheres of the brain are the same, whereas in straight men, there is a slight difference and the right half is larger.

• The study found that on the other hand the sizes of the two brain hemispheres in homosexual women were asymmetrical, similar to those seen in heterosexual men.

• It was also found that even the number of nerves that connected the two hemispheres of the brain, in gay men was equal to the number of nerves in straight women.

Although neither the reason behind these differences, nor, the inferences from them are clear yet, but this latest research sure has been a path breaker as it is helping the scientists understand that sexual preferences are someway related to the emotional center of the brain as well.

"The big question has always been, if the brains of gay men are different, or feminized, as earlier research suggests," says Dr. Eric Vilain, professor of human genetics at University of California Los Angeles, "then is it just limited to sexual preference or are there other regions that are gender atypical in gay males? For the first time, in this study it looks like there are regions of the brain, not directly involved in sexuality, that seem to be feminized in gay males."

Previous studies where on one end have shown the brain differences to be in regions effecting reproduction or sexuality, this is the first study emphasizing on differences elsewhere, in the nerve networks and the emotional centre of the brain –the amygdala.

Prof. Vilain however believes that only some parts of the gay man’s brain are feminized, while the rest retain their masculinity, thus affecting their sexual preferences.

"We know from studies that men, regardless of their sexual orientation, retain masculine characteristics when it comes to their sexual behavior," he says. Using the example, of gay and straight men both choosing younger partners, whereas, homosexual and straight women, booth preferring elder partners.

"So I expect that some regions of the brain will remain masculine even in gay men," says Vilain.

It is strange yet proving to be true now, that after all, the display of gay traits or not, is all in your mind, or should we say, it’s the - brain game ultimately?

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