Serotonin and Sexuality

Serotonin and Sexual Orientation (Liu et al., 2011)

  • Aim: Is serotonin related to sexual preference in rats?
  • Method: Male mice were genetically manipulated to have a gene that produced normal amounts of serotonin or low amounts of serotonin
  • The independent variable was whether the mice got manipulated to have a low or normal serotoning producing gene
  • They placed the manipulated mice in cages with other male mice and/or female mice
  • The dependent variable was which sexes the male mice chose to mount
  • Results: Normal serotonin males mounted females 60-80% of the time and mounted males 20% of the time
  • Low serotonin males lost their sexual preference for females and mounted both males and females equally 80% of the time
  • Conclusion: Serotonin affects sexual preference in rats such that low serotonin mice become more bisexual than normal serotonin rats
  • Evaluation: Cannot generalize these findings to humans and it would be unethical to genetically manipulate humans to test for the chemical roots of sexual preference
  • What about female rats? Only male rats were used in this study

Here are some videos of the rats in Liu's study

Normal serotonin male chooses a female over a male - hetero rat

Low serotonin male mounts a male - homo rat?

Low serotonin male mounts both male and female - bisexual rat?

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