People with unusually high or low MAO levels are more anxious and hostile than those with "normal" levels of MAO. We have found few behavioral studies involving MAO-A (brain MAO), possibly because there aren't too many subjects willing to endure the routine spinal taps. Most studies have been done measuring platelet MAO, which is found within red blood cells and contains only MAO-B (peripheral MAO).

MAO-B has been studied under the assumption that it either corresponds with MAO-A or that it corresponds with the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain. Studies suggest that MAO-B activity corresponds to the ability of the brain to use or synthesize the neurotransmitter serotonin. Because MAO deactivates neurotransmitters, it's possible that low levels of MAO may cause neurotransmitters to accumulate in the axon terminals. This may cause a decreased ability to maintain self-control in various conditions. Another hypothesis is that MAO activity reflects how much neurotransmission is taking place, especially involving serotonin. In this case, low levels of MAO reflect low levels of serotonergic transmission. Studies show that low levels of serotonin in the brain are associated with irritibility and tendencies toward impulsive behaviors.

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