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A neuropsychologic profile of homosexuasl and heterosexuals


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A neuropsychologic profile of homosexuasl and heterosexuals

  1. 1. • A Neuropsychologic Profile of Homosexual and Heterosexual Men and Women• Journal article by Domonick J. Wegesin; Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 27, 1998 A neuropsychologic profile of homosexual and heterosexual men and women. by Domonick J. Wegesin INTRODUCTION Recent neuropsychologic studies have been employed as a means of understanding the etiology of sexual orientation. This approach supplements neuroanatomic and neurophysiologic approaches which have examined differences in brain structure and brain function between homosexual (HM) and heterosexual (HT) individuals (e.g., LeVay, 1991; Reite et al., 1995). Some of the neuropsychologic data suggest that the cognitive patterns of gay men differ from those of HT men on measures that generally elicit sex differences (Gladue et al., 1990; McCormick and Witelson, 1991; Sanders and Ross-Field, 1986). However, at least two studies have failed to reveal effects of sexual orientation (Gladue and Bailey, 1995; Tuttle and Pillard, 1991). Little is known about cognitive abilities of lesbians, though the four published reports suggest that lesbians do not differ significantly from HT women. (Gladue and Bailey, 1995; Gladue et al., 1990; Hall and Kimura, 1993; Tuttle and Pillard, 1991). Theoretically, this body of data has been generated in the framework of psychosexual differentiation, i.e., the development of physical and behavioral differences between the sexes. Homosexuals are thought to follow sex-atypical patterns of psychosexual differentiation such that they develop neurocognitively in the direction of their opposite-sex HT cohorts. This hypothesis is supported by studies of gender-role behavior which indicate that gay men and lesbians are much more likely to report sex- atypical histories of childhood behavior than HT men and women (d = 1.31 for men, d = 0.96 for women; Bailey and Zucker, 1995). The most prominent theory accounting for the relation between homosexuality and sex-atypical cognitive abilities implicates the role of prenatal sex hormones (Meyer-Bahlburg, 1993). Prenatal hormone theory suggests that high concentrations of androgenic hormones are required during the period of sexual differentiation of the brain to masculinize the neural substrates relevant to sexual orientation and neurocognitive function. Without the masculinizing effects of androgenic hormones, a female-typed neural substrate results. Nonhuman animal studies provide evidence consistent with this theory. Prenatal manipulations of androgens during critical periods can induce sex-atypical reproductive and nonreproductive behaviors (Beatty, 1992; Gorski, 1985). Prenatal hormone manipulations are also associated with the development of sex-specific neural dimorphism (Breedlove, 1994). Further, human studies of psychoendocrine populations suggest that prenatal sex hormones are important in the development of sexual orientation. Sex atypicalities in prenatal hormone level have been correlated with increased bi- and homosexuality in these populations (Dittmann et al., 1992; Ehrhardt et al., 1985; Money et al., 1984). Of relevance to the current report are data suggesting that prenatal hormones are also related to sexually dimorphic cognitive