1. After reading Milton Diamond’s article, “Biological Aspects of Sexual Orientation and Identity” (in the course Content), describe an example of a potential biologically-related cause of homosexuality that you find the most compelling. How might biology in this case interact with the environment to produce a specific sexual orientation? How does this help us understand heterosexuality?
The potential bilogically-related cause of homosexuality that I found to be the most compelling are the comparisons between homosexual and heterosexual brains started by the Dutch researchers Swaab and Hofman, and continued by LeVay in the U.S. Their studies found that a region of the medial preoptic area of the hypothalamus is much smaller in females and homosexuals than in heterosexual males. This area is specifically important for nervous system stimulation from the skin, mucus membranes, and the hypothalamus. This is the area of the hypothalamus which releases gonadatropin releasing hormones and controls sexual intercourse in males. The function of this area differs in males and females. If the medial preoptic area of the hypothalamus is smaller (more similar in size) in females and homosexuals than it is in heterosexual males, it makes sense that the function of the medial preoptic area would be different for heterosexual vs. homosexual males. If the female and homosexual medial preoptic area are similar, then it makes sense that the biological effects would be similar between females and homosexual males in sexual responses.
Based on these findings, it seems that a male with a small medial preoptic area would naturally be homosexual, however environment could change whether or not the person were to actively engage in homosexual activities. The world is changing and becoming more open and accepting of all people regardless of their differences. However, it wasn't always that way and in fact there is still a long way to go. There was a time when people were ostracized and mistreated for being gay making it much harder for people to be themselves.
2. We think of fear and anger as separate emotions, but in some ways they may be similar. As a thought question (there’s no “right” answer), what do you think are the fundamental behavioral similarities between fear and anger/aggression? How do fear and anger differ in the brain?
Both fear and anger illicit the fight or flight reaction. In response to a stimuli, the brain must decided whether to stay and fight or run away. Similarly, with both emotions there is a quick response stimulated by a perceived threat. Fear can result in behaviors such as freezing, running away or hiding.
Fear is based on a conditioning of the brain, where strengthened synapses lead to long term memories which eventually become fears. The amygdala is the primary area of the brain responsible for responding to threat. This is the part of the brain that sounds the alarm, telling the rest of the brain/body to respond to the threat.
Conversely, there are many areas of the brain associated with anger. The hypothalamus and the anterior cingulate cortex have been shown through PET studies as the area of the brain associated with anger. The orbito frontal cortex also plays a role in anger processing, more specifically impulse control associated with anger.
|Due By (Pacific Time)
||09/19/2015 12:00 am