Refuting 30 years of scientific theory that solely credits hormones for brain development, UCLA scientists have identified 54 genes that may explain the different organization of male and female brains. Published in the October edition of the journal Molecular Brain Research, the UCLA discovery suggests that sexual identity is hard-wired into the brain before birth and may offer physicians a tool for gender assignment of babies born with ambiguous genitalia.
"Our findings may help answer an important question -- why do we feel male or female?" said Dr. Eric Vilain, assistant professor of human genetics and urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a pediatrician at UCLAs Mattel Childrens Hospital. "Sexual identity is rooted in every persons biology before birth and springs from a variation in our individual genome."
Since the 1970s, scientists have believed that estrogen and testosterone were wholly responsible for sexually organizing the brain. In other words, a fetal brain simply needed to produce more testosterone to become male. Recent evidence, however, indicates that hormones cannot explain everything about the sexual differences between male and female brains.
Elaine Schmidt | EurekAlert!
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