Although males and females sometimes act as if they came from different planets, a study on flies suggests that their brains are largely unisex.
This is confirmed by an investigation of the universities of Yale (USA) and Oxford (United Kingdom), published this Thursday in the American scientific magazine Cell under the title “Love at first light”.
The scientists, headed by Professor Gero Miesenböck, of Oxford, activated by remote control with a laser beam the neuron that in the males is responsible for sexual courtship and obtained the same response in both sexes.
According to the study, the females began to “sing” by vibrating one of their wings, just as the males do to attract their attention when they want to conquer them, which suggests that this behavior is “dormant” in their brain.
However, his “song” was somewhat out of tune and was not as good as that of the males, the article adds.
The flies had been genetically engineered so that the neurons studied reacted to light.
“One would expect brains of both sexes to be designed differently, but that does not seem to be the case and they are more similar than previously thought,” Miesenböck told Efe by telephone.
According to the researcher, “it is simpler and smarter for some connections to work in a feminine or masculine way”, since it would be too complicated for the nervous systems of males and females to be totally different.
The study published in Cell maintains that females “have the program (courtship), but they lack the command to activate it.”
“An obvious question is why females have this brain circuit, although it is possible that it partially coincides with circuits used for other behaviors,” he adds.
Miesenböck said that although the nervous systems of humans and fruit flies are “very similar”, this discovery can not be extrapolated to humans.