Hypothalamus Plasticity – Hebb Neurons

Oh this is fun. If you know me you know I like to have extensive conversations about gay psychology. I have a bit of an obsession with the hypothalamus, plasticity, and snails, (not to mention frog calls of Minnesota.) Here is the deal, the hypothalamus is a bit different in gay men in that it is smaller. That, from my understanding of the research out there, is consistent. (Neil Whitehead, who I reference later, thinks differently on this. But he also works for NARTH which is not a reputable organization for reparative therapy, or anything for that matter.)

. . .  in 1991, a neuroscientist in San Diego named Simon LeVay told the world he had found a key difference between the brains of homosexual and heterosexual men he studied. LeVay showed that a tiny clump of neurons of the anterior hypothalamus – which is believed to control sexual behavior – was, on average, more than twice the size in heterosexual men as in homosexual men. LeVay’s findings did not speak directly to the nature-vs.-nurture debate – the clumps could, theoretically, have changed size because of homosexual behavior. But that seemed unlikely, and the study ended up jump-starting the effort to prove a biological basis for homosexuality. . . (Lavender)

I would like to pay particular attention to the clumps of neurons. Neurons, as I have learned in psychology, are fancy little things! Hebb is considered to be the pap of neuropsychology where all this neural stuff stems from, no pun intended. The basis of his theory is, from wikipedia, “When one cell repeatedly assists in firing another, the axon of the first cell develops synaptic knobs (or enlarges them if they already exist) in contact with the soma of the second cell.” (Hebb 1949, p. 63)

When Swidey from Lavender says “in theory” he is clever enough not to reference the huge hole in this research. Though the research is extremely provoking, the problem is, homosexuality could be a result of, in theory, the constant firing of neurons in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus, like the rest of the brain, has plasticity. It can grow and shrink based on how often certain neural pathways are used. If it becomes a pattern to have gay sex, it becomes a constantly reinforced behavior that fires the neural pathways! This is the in theory. But what makes it unlikely?

The fact that children show gender bending behavior at a young age? Perhaps the different levels of plasticity throughout the brain?