I think the study of attraction is just full of fun. What pheromones?
Here is an email I sent to Dr. Ivanka Savic today about the study of lesbians’ response to putative pheromones. My note is in italics and Dr. Savic’s reply is in bold letters.
The Associated Press story came out today about your study and I think they have reported it incorrectly.
First I am wondering if you can help me understand things more clearly. I am enclosing a link to the AP report: http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/feeds/ap/2006/05/08/ap2729698.html
First, in the report the reporter writes: “It’s a finding that adds weight to the idea that homosexuality has a physical underpinning and is not learned behavior.”
THIS IS INCORRECT AND NOT STATED IN THE PAPER
As I understand your article in PNAS, you specifically offer learning as a hypothesis for your findings. Isn’t this true? I believe the reporter is misleading on that point.
THIS IS VERY UNFORTUNATE; AND YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT
Second, the AP report says: “In lesbians, both male and female hormones were processed the same, in the basic odor processing circuits, Savic and her team reported.” I understand that the study did show that AND (male condition) was processed akin to other odors by lesbians. But wasn’t there also some hypothalamic processing of EST (female condition) by lesbians?
YES! AND ALSO CONJUNCTIONAL ANALYSIS SHOWED A COMMON HYPOTHALAMIC CLUSTER IN THE HYPOTHALAMUS:
It was weaker and apparently not in the anterior hypothalamus but didn’t you also find dorsomedial and paraventricular hypothalamic activation? So it would be inaccurate, would it not, to say “both male and female hormones were processed the same?”
YOU ARE FULLY CORRECT
THANK YOU VERY MUCH. HOW DO I ACCESS THE AP REPORT??
ADDENDUM: Someone posted and asked why I changed the AP wording when I wrote to Dr. Savic. I did not change it but it appears the AP did from saying homosexuality had a “physical underpinning” to a “physical basis.”
News is starting to leak out about an article embargoed until 5PM today. The article reports a study by the same Swedish team that did the gay male and pheromone study about a year ago. This study shows that sexual orientation at the extreme (5-6 Kinsey scale) differentiates how the brain responds to a putative pheromone. The response from lesbians is not as clear cut as gay males. Lesbians process estrogen derived pheromones both in the normal olfactory fashion and via the hypothalamus (a link in the sexual response). The participants did not experience any sexual response so it is interesting that these lesbians’ brains registered the pheromones in a different way than did straight women. Lesbians were somewhat like straight men but not exactly like them. The reference is: Berglund, H., Lindstro”m, P., & Savic, I. (2006). Brain response to putative pheromones in lesbian women. Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Science, Early Edition (www.pnas.org).
As usual, Gay 365 has it wrong. Their article says: “It’s a finding that adds weight to the idea that homosexuality has a physical underpinning and is not learned behavior.” The study doesn’t say anything about how the brain responses occurred. In fact, the study suggests that the differing responses may indeed be learned.
I proposed to Dr. Savic that the team consider an additional study of bisexuals and ex-gays. Dr. Savic replied favorably that the team would consider it.
Addendum: My apologies to Gay 365, they took their info from the AP story. Here is what Dr. Savic said about learning in a New Scientist article on the subject: “But our study can’t answer questions of cause and effect,” cautions lead researcher Ivanka Savic at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. “We can’t say whether the differences are because of pre-existing differences in their brains, or if past sexual experiences have conditioned their brains to respond differently.”
Since moving from full-time counselor to full-time prof, I have come to understand what full-time profs do with all of their full time. Papers being the number one filler of the time. I have discovered that I do not like paper work anymore as a professor than I did when I disliked it as a counselor. That’s all.
It’s been awhile.
Re-reading Pilgrim’s Regress by C.S. Lewis and came across this:
“Hypothesis, my dear young friend, establishes itself by a cumulative process: or to use popular language, if you make the same guess often enough, it ceases to be a guess and becomes a Scientific Fact.”
This stated by Mr. Enlightenment to John the traveler who was looking for his Island (desire). I believe I could say this about a lot of theories but a regular reader will surmise that I might apply it to both reparative theory and to the direct biological theory of sexual attractions.
I’ve got my hand in redemption’s side
Whose scars are bigger than these doubts of mine.
I’ll fit all these monstrosities inside
And I’ll come alive.
-the beautiful letdown, Switchfoot, 2004
I’ve been in trouble but I’m ok,
Been through the wringer but I’m ok,
Walls are falling and I’m ok,
Under the mercy and I’m ok.
-humans, Bruce Cockburn, 1980
He is risen.
Southern Voice article on gender atypical preferences and sexual orientation. I haven’t read it closely as yet but it looked pretty balanced when I skimmed it.
Blogger at Disputed Mutability has some thoughtful reactions to the NGLTF report about ex-gay ministries and youth. I concur with much of this. I have numerous problems with the report but not sure it is worth more scrutiny.