Relationships Among Childhood Sex-Atypical Behavior, Spatial Ability, Handedness, and Sexual Orientation in Men


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Abstract

Moderate support was obtained in a sample of 101 gay, bisexual, and heterosexual males for the perinatal hormone theory, which hypothesizes that attenuated levels of androgens during critical periods of male fetal development fail to masculinize and defeminize the brain. Affected individuals develop female-typical sexual orientation (assessed here by a pie chart) and cerebral organization, reflected in visual-spatial abilities and gender nonconformity. Handedness, also thought to reflect in utero hormone exposure, was evaluated. Gay and bisexual males reported greater femininity and lesser masculinity than heterosexuals, with bisexuals intermediate in masculinity, suggesting a common biological mediator for homoeroticism and sex atypicality. Among bisexual males, increased masculinity was related to enhanced performance on all spatial tasks. Group mean differences in spatial ability and handedness were not found; however, among bisexuals, poorer visual-spatial performance predicted increased homoeroticism and right-handedness positively correlated with all spatial tasks. If perinatal hormones contribute to a generalized feminization of the brain, the current data indicate that it is most apparent among bisexual males. Sexing of their brains may involve several sexually dimorphic regions that are related in a continuous manner. Inferred cerebral feminization was more circumscribed among gay and heterosexual males, for whom childhood sex atypicality was most highly-distinguishing. Unspecified mechanisms responsible for homoeroticism in them may differ from those that produce same-sex attractions in bisexuals and thus have relatively little impact on other components of cerebral feminization.

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