Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Woman's Brain

When I was a student I fell madly in love, for the first time in my life, with a close straight friend. Though sympathetic, he wasn't much inclined to respond. The fact that he was a serial womaniser who tried to construct a harem for himself - only he called it a commune - may have had something to do with it.

When I made my declaration he confessed himself bewildered. I don't understand you at all, he said, confessing to a slight sexual frisson when confronted with an especially handsome bodybuilder, and a one-night stand with a truckie who once gave him a lift, but otherwise no gay inclinations at all.

That's because when it comes to sex, I said, I'm a man from the waist down and a woman from the neck up.

The New Scientist now tells me I had it right.

"in gay people, key structures of the brain governing emotion, mood,
anxiety and aggressiveness resemble those in straight people of the
opposite sex," they say.
Not that I've ever wanted to BE a woman, you understand - I've always enjoyed being male and can't imagine myself any other way.

Of course, there will now be another argument about nature versus nurture. One side will say our brains were born this way, the other side will point to the evidence that brains change according to what you teach them.

The bit of the brain concerned with mapping and directions is bigger than normal in London cabbies, for example. Nuns with Alzheimers seem to stay sane and don't lose their marbles - they just their mental functions into those parts of their brains that still work. It's called brain plasticity.

My first love would have agreed. He enthusiastically road-tested women who he then passed on to me, suitably primed as to their task, hoping they could reprogram my sexuality.

Didn't work.

No comments: