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Horm Behav. 2006 Nov;50(4):579-88. Epub 2006 Jul 28.

Mammalian animal models of psychosexual differentiation: when is 'translation' to the human situation possible?

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Department of Biology, Boston University, 5 Cummington Sreet, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Clinical investigators have been forced primarily to use experiments of nature (e.g., cloacal exstrophy; androgen insensitivity, congenital adrenal hyperplasia) to assess the contribution of fetal sex hormone exposure to the development of male- and female-typical profiles of gender identity and role behavior as well as sexual orientation. In this review, I summarize the results of numerous correlative as well as mechanistic animal experiments that shed significant light on general neuroendocrine mechanisms controlling the differentiation of neural circuits controlling sexual partner preference (sexual orientation) in mammalian species including man. I also argue, however, that results of animal studies can, at best, provide only indirect insights into the neuroendocrine determinants of human gender identity and role behaviors.

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