A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men

Science. 1991 Aug 30;253(5023):1034-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1887219.


The anterior hypothalamus of the brain participates in the regulation of male-typical sexual behavior. The volumes of four cell groups in this region [interstitial nuclei of the anterior hypothalamus (INAH) 1, 2, 3, and 4] were measured in postmortem tissue from three subject groups: women, men who were presumed to be heterosexual, and homosexual men. No differences were found between the groups in the volumes of INAH 1, 2, or 4. As has been reported previously, INAH 3 was more than twice as large in the heterosexual men as in the women. It was also, however, more than twice as large in the heterosexual men as in the homosexual men. This finding indicates that INAH is dimorphic with sexual orientation, at least in men, and suggests that sexual orientation has a biological substrate.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Hypothalamic Nucleus / anatomy & histology*
  • Anterior Hypothalamic Nucleus / cytology
  • Female
  • Homosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Optic Chiasm / anatomy & histology
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*