The messenger substances, which unconsciously precede any intimate contact, are evaluated differently in the brain of homosexual women than in heterosexuals. However, researchers also found differences compared to signal processing in the brain of gays.
How do people react to their preferred gender?
In homosexual women, the brain responds differently to their heterosexual counterparts. But the reaction in the brain of lesbians also differs from that of homosexual men. This was found out by Swedish scientists in an experiment with sex pheromones.
- In the experiment, the researchers used the knowledge of pheromones, different olfactory messengers of men and women who, in search of a partner, initiate the process of getting to know each other.
- It is well known whether a partner appears sympathetic, attractive and sexy is an unconscious reaction to the pheromones emitted. In animals, for example, pheromones trigger defensive reflexes or readiness to mate.
Twelve lesbians, twelve heterosexual women and twelve heterosexual men had the neurologists at the Stockholm Karolinska Institute smell different scent samples while their brain reaction was being investigated. Both samples with the male pheromone AND and the female attractant EST were available for the volunteers to sniff as well as four ordinary odours without added messengers.
The brain tests showed that the ordinary odours were all processed in the brain regions responsible for the odours. In heterosexual women, the male attractant AND was processed in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that also provides sexual arousal. EST scents, on the other hand, were processed in the normal scent centre. For heterosexual men it was the other way around.
When asked which of the two fragrances they found more familiar, the test persons of all three groups answered in unison: the male pheromone AND. So much for the similarities in the researchers’ article published in the scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS).
Women’s attractant also banished to the fragrance centre
In the brain, lesbians reacted differently from all other test subjects: Both male and female attractants were processed profanely in the olfactory centre. The hypothalamus was left out.
This is particularly interesting because the same research group led by Ivanka Savic last year found in a similar experiment with homosexual men that the brain response of these men was very similar to that of heterosexual women.
“Sandra Witelson of the McMaster University of Hamilton in Canada commented on the results of the Swedish group. “They show us that sexual orientation may well have a different basis in men and women.” Witelson is an expert in neuroanatomy and sexual orientation.
The authors of the study themselves see things in a similar way: There is a physical basis for both female and male homosexuality that can be traced at messenger level. However, Savic and her colleagues write that homosexuality in women is obviously structured differently from homosexuality in men.
Ideological explosives represent such research results especially in the United States and other societies in which the handling of homosexuality is controversial: There a large part of the Christian conservative right represents the position that homosexuality lacks a physical basis.
The insinuation that gays and lesbians only display learned behavior, even deliberately, is part of the standard repertoire of right-wing argumentators.