Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Unisex Brain in Flies

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Unisex Brain in Flies

Article excerpt

Research by Yale University scientists shows that males and females have essentially unisex brains--at least in flies--according to a recent report designed to identify factors that are responsible for sex differences in behavior.

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The researchers showed that a courting "song and dance" routine that only male flies naturally perform, in which one wing is lifted and wiggled to make a humming "song," can also be triggered in female flies by artificially stimulating particular brain cells that are present in both sexes. It is not what you have, it is how you use it, the authors say.

"It appears there is a largely bisexual or 'unisex brain,'" says senior author Gero Miesenboeck, formerly of Yale University and now at the University of Oxford. "Anatomically, the differences are subtle and a few critical switches make the difference between male and female behavior."

According to the authors, most male animals have to perform elaborate courtship displays to try to convince the female that they are worthy mates. …

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