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Human Sexual Orientation May Be Hard-Wired Suggests Study on Worms
Lana Groves, a Staff Writer with the Daily Utah Chronicle, a University of Utah student newspaper, wrote in an Oct. 26, 2007 article titled "Scientists Alter Sex in Worms":
"A new study on sexual orientation in worms suggests human sexual orientation might be controlled by mechanisms in the brain.
By manipulating circuits in a worm's brain that control behavior, U [University of Utah] biologists were able to alter the sexual preferences of male and female worms to mirror the opposite gender. The females became attracted to their own sex.
However, male worms that took on female characteristics were not attracted to other males, because the female worms in the species are not drawn to males either. ...
The study found that cells existing in both male and female worms can be rewired to activate certain modes of behavior." Oct. 26, 2007 Lana Groves
Erik Jorgensen, PhD, Scientific Director of the Brain Institute at the University of Utah and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, stated for an Oct. 25, 2007 University of Utah press release:
"The conclusion is that sexual attraction is wired into brain circuits common to both sexes of worms, and is not caused solely by extra nerve cells added to the male or female brain. ...
The reason males and females behave differently is that the same nerve cells have been rewired to alter sexual preference. Our conclusions are narrow in that they are about worms and how attraction behaviors are derived from the same brain circuit. But an evolutionary biologist will consider this to be a potentially common mechanism for sexual attraction. ...
We cannot say what this means for human sexual orientation, but it raises the possibility that sexual preference is wired in the brain. Humans are subject to evolutionary forces just like worms. It seems possible that if sexual orientation is genetically wired in worms, it would be in people too. Humans have free will, so the picture is more complicated in people. ...
People debate whether the brain is influenced by sexual hormones from the gonads or whether the behavior is derived from the brain alone. In this case, it's clear the brain is sexualized. ... The surprise was that sensory neurons found in the hermaphrodite brain are involved in sexual attraction in males." Oct. 25, 2007 Erik Jorgensen