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Is the brain-sex theory founded in fact?

Hunt for evidence of the 'gay brain'

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Also in this week's column:

Is the brain-sex theory founded in fact?

Asked by Kath Kennedy of Liverpool, United Kingdom

In the controversial area of brain-sex theory and the quest for proof of "the gay brain", the notion has been put forward that the brains of males in careers that are typically dominated by women are somehow different than the brains of men who are in careers that are typically dominated by men.

Research in this area is active. One of many studies recently found no evidence for such a relationship.

Drs A Esgate and Maria Flynn of the Department of Psychology at the University of Westminster in London tested the skill of synonym generation (verbal ability) and mental rotation (spatial ability) in students about to enroll in sex-differentiated university courses.

The two psychologists write in the February 2005 <cite<Perceptual and Motor Skills that: "Since the fashion-design career is also one that attracts disproportionately many male students whose sexual orientation is homosexual, data were examined for evidence of female-typical patterns of cognitive performance among that subgroup. This was not found. This study therefore provides no evidence for the claim that female-pattern cerebral functional lateralisation is likely in gay males."

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

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