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Multimodal MRI suggests that male homosexuality may be linked to cerebral midline structures
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Biological psychology. Karolinska Institute and Hospital, Sweden.
Number of Authors: 22018 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 13, no 10, article id e0203189Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The neurobiology of sexual preference is often discussed in terms of cerebral sex dimorphism. Yet, our knowledge about possible cerebral differences between homosexual men (HoM), heterosexual men (HeM) and heterosexual women (HeW) are extremely limited. In the present MRI study, we addressed this issue investigating measures of cerebral anatomy and function, which were previously reported to show sex difference. Specifically, we asked whether there were any signs of sex atypical cerebral dimorphism among HoM, if these were widely distributed (providing substrate for more general 'female' behavioral characteristics among HoM), or restricted to networks involved in self-referential sexual arousal. Cortical thickness (Cth), surface area (SA), subcortical structural volumes, and resting state functional connectivity were compared between 30 (HoM), 35 (HeM) and 38 (HeW). HoM displayed a significantly thicker anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), precuneus, and the left occipito-temporal cortex compared to both control groups. These differences seemed coordinated, since HoM also displayed stronger cortico-cortical covariations between these regions. Furthermore, functional connections within the default mode network, which mediates self- referential processing, and includes the ACC and precuneus were significantly weaker in HoM than HeM and HeW, whereas their functional connectivity between the thalamus and hypothalamus (important nodes for sexual behavior) was stronger. In addition to these singular features, HoM displayed 'female' characteristics, with a similar Cth in the left superior parietal and cuneus cortices as HeW, but different from HeM. These data suggest both singular and sex atypical features and motivate further investigations of cerebral midline structures in relation to male homosexuality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 13, no 10, article id e0203189
National Category
Neurosciences Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-161003DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203189ISI: 000446010200004PubMedID: 30278046OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-161003DiVA, id: diva2:1255990
Available from: 2018-10-15 Created: 2018-10-15 Last updated: 2019-01-21Bibliographically approved

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