AIDS Dementia and hypothalamic lesions

Laurie Davison ldavison at
Mon Mar 17 16:45:43 EST 1997

   I posted this on a neuroscience newsgroup as well, but thought someone 
here may be able to help.
   I was discussing the work of Simon LeVay a few days ago and a friend 
asked me whether his results might not be explained by brain 
lesions/atrophy due to advanced AIDS. In case you need a brief refresher, 
LeVay conducted a study of brain slices and found a difference in the 
size of a certain type of *hypothalamic* nuclei between heterosexual and 
homosexual men. The gay men's nuclei resembled those of heterosexual 
women. Unfortunately, LeVay's work has recieved much criticism 
partially because many of the brains of gay men were from those who had 
died of AIDS.
   I don't know very much about the specific lesions related to advanced 
AIDS and my tendency is to want to say that they would be localized in 
places other than the hypothalamus... but I just don't know. Also, I seem 
to recall that the differentiation of hypothalamic nuclei occurred pretty 
quickly after birth and were "set" to a degree after that. It's been a 
while since I studied this stuff, though...
   Can anyone help me with this one? Thanks in advance!


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