Leeanne

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Information

  • Age:
  • 39
  • Gender:
  • Fem
  • My favourite drink:
  • Ale
  • What I like to listen:
  • Blues

About

Sniffing out gender is something that animals are built to do, both with the appropriate scent-releasing structures to perfume the air with sex pheromones, and the most sensitive odor-detecting organs on the planet. In the latest study on the subject, researchers in China and at the University of Minnesota conducted a small study in which both men and women of different sexual orientation were exposed to male, female or neutral scents without their knowledge on three consecutive days while they viewed a series of computer dots representing a person walking. Heterosexual men thought the dots showed a more feminine gait when they were exposed to the female hormone estratetraenol.

Description

Homosexual people have a nose for each other, according to new research published in Psychological Science. Scientists in Philadelphia collected samples of underarm sweat from 24 donors of "varied gender and sexual orientation" and then asked 82 heterosexual and homosexual men and women to test these for any potential appealing qualities. Homosexual men and lesbian women showed preferences that were not those of heterosexual people of either sex.

Gay men preferred the scent of gay men and heterosexual women. But the scent of gay men was the least preferred by heterosexual men and women and by lesbian women.

On the same day, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published slightly more substantial research into what it is about male sweat that might trigger a response in the brains of gay men and heterosexual women. Swedish scientists established in an earlier piece of research that the hypothalamus region of the brain became activated when men detected an oestrogen steroid known as EST, and women's brains lit up when they got a whiff of a testosterone derivative known to biochemists as AND.

In the latest study, they used brain imaging equipment to test the responses of homosexual men, and heterosexual men and women, to EST, AND and other smells such as lavender. AND set the hypothalamus alight in homosexual men and heterosexual women.

EST worked for heterosexual men alone. So the research shows that the human brain responds differently to these potential pheromones — pheromones are the agencies of attraction in the animal world — and that there could be a link between sexual orientation and brain function.

The science behind the news Science.

Can gay men and women really sense each other by smell? Tim Radford. Topics Science The science behind the news. Reuse this content.

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