Daily Archives: June 17, 2008

Homosexuality: nature or nurture?

The LA Times reports on a study that joins the existing literature on the alleged biological underpinnings of homosexuality.

The brains of gay men resemble those of straight women, according to research published today that provides more evidence of the role of biology in sexual orientation.

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 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 that the brain similarities were not as close in the case of gay women and straight men.

This other LA Times article reviews some of this ‘homosexuality as biology’ literature.

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Chimps, orangutans capable of planning for future

I don’t really follow animal behavior research very closely but this Live Science report (via MSNBC) raises some interesting issues in the old “what is intelligence?” debate.

Chimps and orangutans plan for the future just like us.

They are capable of exercising self-control to postpone gratification and to imagine future events via “mental time travel,” according to new research from Lunds University Cognitive Science in Sweden.

The skill of future planning was commonly thought to be exclusive to humans, although some studies of apes and crows have challenged this idea, say researchers Mathias and Helena Osvath. Now, for the first time, there is “conclusive evidence of advanced planning capacities in non-human species,” they say.

The results are detailed online this week in the journal Animal Cognition.