Monday, June 16, 2008

Dr. Suzanne Corkin, "Gay Brain" Skeptic

Just a quick post for now on the brand new PNAS article by Savic and Lindström that spawned the "Gay Men, Straight Women Have Similar Brains" story. Professor Suzanne Corkin of MIT (famous for her studies of the amnesic patient H.M., among other things) was interviewed about this finding, and here are her comments:

While the results were striking, they would be more convincing if the authors had matched the groups for IQ, education and measures of depression and anxiety, said Suzanne Corkin, a professor of behavioral neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an e-mailed statement. Also, the authors are "overly dismissive'' of the potential role of environmental influences, Corkin said.

"In short, I would be reluctant to draw strong conclusions about heterosexual versus homosexual brain structure and connectivity from this single experiment,'' Corkin said. She wasn't involved in the study.

That quote came from an article written by Elizabeth Lopatto, which is commendable for interviewing experts and providing background on the subject. Read the whole article (excerpt below).
Gay Brain Structure Similar to Straight Opposite Sex (Update1)

By Elizabeth Lopatto

June 16 (Bloomberg) -- Gay men and straight women share brain characteristics that suggest sexual preferences may be innate rather than learned, researchers said. Lesbians and heterosexual men also had similar brain tendencies.

A study of 90 adults showed similarities between gay men and straight women in a part of the brain linked to emotional response called the amygdala, and a similar finding for lesbians and straight men. The research also found lesbians and heterosexual men had larger right brains, the side associated with spatial ability, while the left and right brains of both gay men and straight women were more symmetrical.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adds to research that suggests a biological basis for homosexuality, researchers said. Earlier studies have mostly focused on behavioral differences and similarities.

Reference

Savic I, Lindström P. (2008). PET and MRI show differences in cerebral asymmetry and functional connectivity between homo- and heterosexual subjects. PNAS. June 16, 2008, 10.1073/pnas.0801566105.

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