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Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation

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Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

What causes a child to grow up gay or straight? In this book, neuroscientist Simon LeVay summarizes a wealth of scientific evidence that points to one inescapable conclusion: Sexual orientation results primarily from an interaction between genes, sex hormones, and the cells of the developing body and brain.

LeVay helped create this field in 1991 with a much-publicized study in Science, where he reported on a difference in the brain structure between gay and straight men. Since then, an entire scientific discipline has sprung up around the quest for a biological explanation of sexual orientation. In this book, LeVay provides a clear explanation of where the science stands today, taking the reader on a whirlwind tour of laboratories that specialize in genetics, endocrinology, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, and family demographics. He describes, for instance, how researchers have manipulated the sex hormone levels of animals during development, causing them to mate preferentially with animals of their own gender. LeVay also reports on the prevalence of homosexual behavior among wild animals, ranging from Graylag geese to the Bonobo chimpanzee.

Although many details remain unresolved, the general conclusion is quite clear: A person's sexual orientation arises in large part from biological processes that are already underway before birth.

About the Author

British-born neuroscientist Simon LeVay is best known for a 1991 study that described a difference in brain structure between gay and straight men. This study, carried out at the Salk Institute in San Diego, helped kick-start a wealth of research into the biological basis of sexual orientation. LeVay has authored over 40 scientific papers and 11 books.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1: What Is Sexual Orientation?

Criteria for sexual orientation

Sexual orientation in men and women

Stability of sexual orientation

Prevalence of different orientations

Are there categories?

Sexual orientation across cultures

Chapter 2: Why We Need Biology

Psychoanalytic theories

Learning theories-influence of early sexual experiences

Learning theories-gender learning

Is it a choice?

The biological alternative

Chapter 3: The Outline of a Theory 30

Male and female brains

Male and female behaviors

Development of sex differences in animals

Sexual partner preference in animals

Origins of variation within each sex

Relevance to human sexual orientation

Sexual orientation in nature

Chapter 4: Childhood

Development of gendered childhood traits

Childhood traits associated with adult sexual orientation: retrospective studies

Prospective studies

Contrasting models

Chapter 5: Characteristics of gay and straight adults

Gendered traits in adulthood 54

Origin of gendered traits

Sexual orientation and cognitive traits: visuospatial abilities 58

Verbal fluency

Memory tasks

Handedness

Intelligence

Personality traits: Masculinity-femininity

Occupational preferences

Other personality traits

Sexuality

Overview

Chapter 6: The role of sex hormones

Hormone levels in gay and straight adults

Why focus on prenatal sex hormones?

Hormone levels during development

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia

Finger length studies

The inner ear

Central auditory system

Action of sex hormones on the developing brain

Possible causes of variability in prenatal androgen levels

Chapter 7: The role of genes

Sibling studies

Is the family clustering caused by genes?

Twin studies

Molecular genetics-candidate-gene studies

Genome scans

Genes and sexuality in fruit flies

Genes, homosexuality, and evolution

Kin selection

The "fertile female" hypothesis

Beneficial effects on same-sex relatives

Chapter 8: The brain

A brief tour of the brain

The hypothalamus and sexual orientation

Other brain regions

Brain activity

Pheromone studies

Sheep

Overview

Inhibition and sexual orientation

Chapter 9: The body

Body size and shape

Trunk and limb length

Penis size

Symmetry and developmental instability

Hair whorl direction

Gaydar

Overview

Chapter 10: The older-brother effect

How well established is the older brother effect?

How strong is the older brother effect?

The older-brother effect and handedness

What causes the older-brother effect?

Is the older-brother effect adaptive?

Chapter 11: Conclusions

Sexual orientation is linked to other gendered traits

A common origin for gender-shifted traits?

The role of genes

Does the older-brother effect work through prenatal hormones?

Is there a random biological influence?

How does sexual orientation become categorical?

Diversity among gay people

Changes in the prevalence and nature of homosexuality

Sexual orientation and gender: the social fallout

Glossary

Bibliography

Product Details

ISBN:
9780199931583
Author:
Levay, Simon
Publisher:
Oxford University Press (UK)
Author:
LeVay, Simon
Subject:
Cognitive Psychology
Subject:
Psychology | Sexuality
Subject:
Psychology-Cognitive Science
Subject:
Psychology : General
Subject:
Gay Studies
Publication Date:
20120931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
5 x 8.2 x 1.4 in 1 lb

Related Subjects

Gay and Lesbian » Fiction and Poetry » General
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Cognitive Science
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Gay Studies
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » General
History and Social Science » Linguistics » General
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

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