Navigation Links
It's a unisex brain with specific signals that trigger 'male' behavior

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

The researchers showed that a courting song and dance routine that only male flies naturally perform 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 isnt what youve got its how you use it, the authors say.

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

According to the authors, most male animals have to perform elaborate courtship displays to try to convince the female that they are worthy mates. Their study was designed to see what neurons were responsible for behavior in the courtship dance of flies, and how the neural circuits in males and females differed. To do this, they genetically engineered specific neurons in the fly to respond to light. This optical trick allowed them to activate the neural circuits that control the behavior pattern directly.

Using a flash of laser light as a remote control for the brain cells, the researchers first identified which nerve cells control the courting behavior in males. Next, they showed that the cells were present and functional in both males and females, even though only males do the song and dance.

Surprisingly, when the brain cells of female flies were flashed with the laser cue we found that even the female flies that never normally behaved this way, began to sing, said Dylan Clyne, a Yale post-doctoral associate and primary investigator of the study. Our work shows that the brains not only look similar but are functionally similar. The females have all the equipment to sing, but normally dont use it because their song circuit doesnt get the appropriate activating signals.

Asked about the relevance of this study to humans, Clyne said, You have to be careful about how much you can extrapolate from studying flies. But, the basic principle should hold up that is, the idea that we dont need big sex-differences in the brain to explain why it seems that men are from Mars and women from Venus.

The authors next goal is finding the controls that set the flies brains to the male or female mode. They hope that by studying examples like sex-specific behaviors, they can clarify the still poorly understood relationships between genes, which are the targets of natural selection, and behavior, which is the product of evolution. Ultimately, this line of research could also shed light on how genes underlie behavioral variation and perhaps even specific mental illnesses.


Contact: Janet Rettig Emanuel
Yale University

Related biology news :

1. Detecting dangerous chemicals with lasers, exploring the brains circuitry with light and more
2. Vitamin D in brain function
3. Unconscious decisions in the brain
4. Brain study may lead to improved epilepsy treatments
5. Learning and the brain
6. Can micro-scaffolding help stem cells rebuild the brain after stroke?
7. Scientists ask whether microscaffolding can help stem cells rebuild brain after stroke damage
8. Your babys brain on drugs (and alcohol and tobacco)
9. Autism Speaks collaborates on grant with the Allen Institute for Brain Science and autism expert
10. Veterinary college researcher studying brain tumors in people and animals
11. Harvard researchers publish MRI images of genes in action in the living brain
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
It's a unisex brain with specific signals that trigger 'male' behavior
(Date:6/23/2017)... and ITHACA, N.Y. , June 23, ... University, a leader in dairy research, today announced a ... to help reduce the chances that the global milk ... of this dairy project, Cornell University has become the ... the Food Supply Chain, a food safety initiative that ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... May 16, 2017  Veratad Technologies, LLC ( ... age and identity verification solutions, announced today they will ... 2017, May 15 thru May 17, 2017, in ... International Trade Center. Identity impacts the ... in today,s quickly evolving digital world, defining identity is ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... -- Janice Kephart , former 9/11 Commission ... LLP (IdSP) , today issues the following statement: ... 6, 2017 Executive Order: Protecting the Nation ... instilled with greater confidence, enabling the reactivation of ... are suspended by until at least July 2017). ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... and LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. , ... of Cancer Research, London (ICR) and ... with SKY92, SkylineDx,s prognostic tool to risk-stratify patients with multiple ... as MUK nine . The University of ... is partly funded by Myeloma UK, and ICR will perform ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... granted orphan drug designation to SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator ... osteosarcoma. SBT-100 is able to cross the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... For the second time in three ... Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program travelled to Washington, D.C. Tuesday, October ... US2020’s mission is to change the trajectory of STEM education in America by ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... CRUZ, Calif. , Oct. 10, 2017 ... grant from the NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single Cell), ... kit for profiling small RNAs (including microRNAs) from single ... Analysis Program highlights the need to accelerate development of ... "New techniques for measuring ...
Breaking Biology Technology: