Sexual Behavior in Males and Females Are Determined by Specific Brain Genetic Activity

Based on investigations by Stanford Medicine researchers, the different sexual behaviors exhibited by male and female sexes are found to be a result of their brain disparities. These disparities can be linked to the activity of the genes that control the brain cells. Genes are the basic unit of inheritance for a given characteristic, meaning that they are responsible for every trait expressed by an animal.



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The study was carried out using four tiny brain structures from male and female mice that program the sexual activities of these mammals. Since the brain of a mouse is somewhat similar in structure and function to that of humans, the conclusions drawn from the study can be said to be true for humans.

An example of some sexual behaviors unique to a male mouse is the ability to identify the sex of a stranger much faster than their female counterpart; one peculiar to females is their receptivity to mating and their somewhat violent behavior geared towards the protection of their young ones.


The analysis that was done on tissue extracts from the brain of both sexes of mice unlocked the fact that there are 1000 more active genes in one sex than there are in the other. According to the findings of Nirao Shah, certain cells are responsible for the distinct sex behavior noticed among males and females.

Males can immediately identify the sex of an intruder. If they sense it’s another male, they fight back to send them away from their territory, and if they sense it’s a female, they become friendly to them, allowing them to reside within their territory. Females, on the other hand, are so protective of their young ones and can fight to protect them when the need arises. They are also receptive to mating activities depending on their hormonal cycle at the moment. The study also revealed that the number of brain cells linked to these noticeable variances in sexual actions is so minute that to be examined in toto, they have to be separated from the brain, and studied cell by cell.

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Just as in humans, estrogen and progesterone levels in female mice varies according to their sexual cycle, and this, in turn, determines how receptive and willing these mammals are to mating. The higher the sexual hormonal level (known as the estrus stage), the more willing and receptive they are; the lower the sexual hormonal level (the diestrus stage), the less willing and receptive they become.

From the four tiny brain structures examined, they found that a particular tissue is composed of different cell types, and not all of these cell types are involved in the peculiar sex-social behaviors exhibited by these mammals. From the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, BNST – one of these tiny structures – they discovered about 36 different cell types controlled by their specific gene, of which only one is responsible for the male’s unique sexual behavior.

In another tiny structure which they studied – ventromedial hypothalamus, VMH – they discovered 27 different cell types of which only one controls the height of sexual performance in females. The functions of the other 35 cell types from BNST and 26 from VMH are yet to be discovered.

Clinical Significance

The results from the study empower doctors, especially reproductive health specialists. with the knowledge of sexual actions unique to the male and female sex. The understanding of this knowledge helps these medical practitioners to know how best to treat patients who suffer low sexual responsiveness and reproductivity.

Read Also: Sexually Transmitted Diseases That Can Lead to Infertility in Women


Male and female sexes possess unique sexual behaviors which are a consequence of variation in their brain cells and the gene activity controlling these cells.


A functional cellular framework for sex and estrous cycle-dependent gene expression and behavior



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