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Process of sexual differentiation - Term Paper Example

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Article review:sexual differentiation in the brain Name Institutional affiliation Tutor Date Article review: sexual differentiation in the brain Sexual differentiation is a process by which the gonads acquire sexual characteristics and become either male or female…
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Process of sexual differentiation
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Download file to see previous pages Summary of the main points Sexual differentiation according to Swaab (2007) also occurs in the human brain during the intrauterine period. Whereas genital sexual differentiation occurs during the first 6 weeks of pregnancy, sexual differentiation in the brain takes place from the age of about 4 months. In Swaab’s (2007) argument, since the process of sexual differentiation between the genitals and the brain occurs at two different stages and may be independent of each other, the trans-sexuality could occur. This means that a person may have the genitalia reflecting one sex, yet their brain functions according to the other gender. Sexual differentiation in the brain is a very intriguing topic of study. As Swaab (2007) states, the sexual orientation of the brain is influenced by the environment in which the fetus develops. The child’s hormones, in addition to those of the mother, plus all the other substances that enter the body of the fetus through the mother all contribute towards the sexual differentiation of the brain. During the development of the brain, sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone play a major role in permanently organizing the sexual orientation of the brain. This orientation begins to manifest during puberty when the sex hormones become active and the individual begins to have a particular gender identity. Beginning from the puberty stage through the entire life of the individual, the interaction between the sex hormones and the brain cells enable a person to form gender identity, adopt certain gender-based behaviors, take up specific gender roles, and have a sexual orientation. Accordingly, sexual differentiations between the genitals and the brains cause a person to either become heterosexual, transsexual, or homosexual depending on the relationship between the development processes. Changes in the structure of the brain, therefore, according to Swaab (2007) can lead to shifts in the sexual orientation of person. This is particularly so, if the temporal lobe of the brain is affected, as it can cause a heterosexual person to become either homosexual or pedophile. Nonetheless, Swaab (2007) seeks to clarify that sexual orientation of the brain is not only influenced by hormones, but also by the differentiation of genes. Implications One of the implications of this article is that the sexual orientation of a person is not only determined by their sexual organs, but also by their brain functions. This is why, there are people who belong to one gender, yet their actions and behavior reflect another gender. The implication here is that a person does not choose their sexual orientation rather; this orientation is predetermined by the sexual differentiation that occurs in the brain during fetal development. The second implication is that the external environment or the society within which a person grows does not have much of an effect on their sexual behavior and orientations. Intrauterine development of the fetus is what contributes to sexual differentiation of the brain, especially as a result of all the chemical exchanges between the fetus and the mother. This, therefore, implies that certain nutrients and medications taken by pregnant women can affect the sexual orientation of an individual. Comparison to existing literature on sexual differentiation of the brain Swaab’s article corresponds with a number of other literary works addressing the subject of sexual differenti ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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