from Clinical/Therapeutic Issues
The original article by AP Science Writer Randolph Schmid, reported on a new study published by the Stockholm Brain Institute on how lesbians and heterosexuals reacted to chemicals derived from male and female sex hormones. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Lead researcher on this study was Ivanka Savic with the Stockholm Brain Institute. Last year, her team produced a study on how gay males respond differently to hormones than heterosexual males.
According to Schmid, lesbians and heterosexual males liked the female pheromone more than the male one; while heterosexual women found the male and female pheromones equally pleasant.
Schmid noted: "... the findings add weight to the idea that homosexuality has a physical basis and is not learned behavior."
Dr. Warren Throckmorton, an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College, contacted Dr. Savic to find out if Schmid's reporting accurately reflected her study. It did not.
Dr. Throckmorton's email exchange with the study's author, Dr. Savic, is reprinted below. Dr. Savic's responses are noted in capital 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."
The Associated Press's clarification stated in part: "While there were differences in how the brains of homosexual and heterosexual participants reacted to the chemicals, the story should also have included the conclusion that indicated differences in individual perceptions were not statistically significant."