Chapter

Biological Determinism of Sexual Orientation in Animals

Jacques Balthazart

in The Biology of Homosexuality

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199838820
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919512 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199838820.003.0022
Biological Determinism of Sexual Orientation in Animals

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Unlike other aspects of human sexuality that have no equivalent in the animal, sexual orientation can be easily studied in animals. The test animal can be offered a choice between a male or female sexual partner, and the observer can record toward which of these partners the test animal orients its sexual behavior. This type of research is not as developed as the research on sexual behavior in the stricter sense, and it was started more recently. However, two important principles are already firmly established: firstly, that the sexual orientation of reproductive behavior is controlled, both in adulthood and during its development from conception through maturation, by the same hormones that control sexual behavior; and secondly, that these hormones act in the same brain regions to activate sexual behavior and determine its orientation. This chapter summarizes these data as they establish the theoretical context from which it is proposed, thereafter, an explanatory model of human homosexuality based on early (embryonic) and irreversible effects of sex steroids.

Keywords: sexual orientation; animals; human sexuality; hormones; sexual behavior; homosexuality; sex steroids

Chapter.  5883 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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