Written with the same clarity, directness, and humor that have made Simon LeVay one of the most popular lecturers at Harvard Medical School and at the University of California, San Diego, The Sexual Brain examines the biological roots of human sexual behavior. It puts forward the compelling case that the diversity of human sexual feelings and behavior can best be understood in terms of the development, structure, and function of the brain circuits that produce them. Discarding all preconceptions about the motivation and purpose of sexuality, LeVay discusses the scientific evidence bearing on such questions as why we are sexual animals, what the brain mechanisms are that produce sexual behavior, how these mechanisms differ between men and women and how these differences develop, and finally, what determines a person's sexual orientation: genes, prenatal events, family environment, or early sexual experiences? The Sexual Brain is broad in scope, covering evolutionary theory, molecular genetics, endocrinology, brain structure and function, cognitive psychology, and development.
It is unified by LeVay's thesis that human sexual behavior, in all its diversity, is rooted in biological mechanisms that can be explored by laboratory science. The book does not shy away from the complexities of the field, but it can be readily appreciated and enjoyed by anyone with an intelligent interest in sex.
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(229mm x 152mm x 12mm)
Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
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US Kirkus Review »
A fascinating look at the biological bases for diversity of sexual feelings and behavior. Neurobiologist LeVay (Salk Institute for Biological Studies/UC at San Diego), whose only previous writing on sex was a 1991 paper in Science reporting differences in the hypothalamus of gay and straight men, says that his newness to the field of sex research has enabled him to bring a "certain amateurish or journalistic attitude to the field." Unlike many scientists, LeVay has a skilled journalist's ability to make technical subject matter accessible, and he seems to have fun doing it. All the chapter titles are from Shakespeare: "Time's Millioned Accidents" covers the evolution of sex; "For a Woman Thou First Created" looks at the biology of sexual development; "The Womby Vaultage" examines the hypothalamus; and "The Beast with Two Backs" is about the mechanics of sexual intercourse. Other chapters look at the nature-versus-nurture question; how hormones influence courtship and maternal behavior; the organization of the brain; sexual identity; and sexual orientation. LeVay, who's gay, devotes his longest chapter to sexual orientation, examining the biological mechanisms that may help make a person gay, straight, or bisexual. Happily, he provides summaries at the beginning or end of most chapters, and he encourages readers to skip chapters that seem too technical and to read just the summary before going on. And there's a glossary designed not just for the scientifically challenged but for those who want help with Shakespeare's language as well: "millioned" is explained next to "mitosis," and "vasotocin" next to "vaultage." Erudite and entertaining. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Simon LeVay
Simon LeVay, whose 1991 paper published in Science, "A difference in hypothalamic structure between homosexual and heterosexual men," attracted worldwide scientific and public attention, is Associate Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the University of California, San Diego. He is presently Chair of the Steering Committee of the Institute of Gay and Lesbian Education, West Hollywood, a new college for the gay and lesbian community in Southern California.