Brains: Nature or Development?

Every now and again, a study comes out attesting to the fact that homosexual men have brains that are more similar to women’s than to men’s.  This one is just the latest (HT Instapundit)

Using brain scanning equipment, researchers said they discovered similarities in the brain circuits that deal with language, perhaps explaining why homosexual men tend to outperform straight men on verbal skills tests — as do heterosexual women.

The area of the brain that processes emotions also looked very much the same in gay men and straight women — and both groups have higher rates of depressive disorders than heterosexual men, researchers said.

The study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, however, found the brain similarities were not as close in the case of gay women and straight men.

Previous studies have found evidence that sexual orientation is hard-wired. More than a decade ago, neurobiologist Simon LeVay reported that a key area of the hypothalamus, a brain structure linked to sexual behavior, was smaller in homosexual men compared to heterosexual men.

The latest study, led by Ivanka Savic of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, was significant in that it looked at areas of the brain that have nothing to do with sexual behavior, suggesting there was a basic biological link between sexual orientation and a range of brain functions.

The way I see it, this research means nothing when they are done after  the person has identified and lived as gay.  Brains change and develop over time; how can we say that the way that we use our brain, say, by embracing a more feminine attitude/personality as some gay men do, doesn’t cause the brain to develop in a more “feminine” way? 

What I would like to see is a longitudinal study, done starting in childhood and following to adulthood, to see if we could “predict” homosexuality based on brain physiology.  (Yeah, that would be a Pandora’s Box- it’s my research fantasy, so I will limit it only to answering questions about which I am curious and assume that it will never be misused.)

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