Behind the Brains

Serial killers


M.A.O.A stands for Monoamine oxidase A. It is a genetic trait and is not preventable. But it can be controlled, and you can refrain from "psychotic outbreaks". This gene is not always hereditary but you can inherit it at any age of your life if you aren't already born with the MAOA gene. M.A.O.A has the nickname “warrior gene” because it has been linked to aggression and punishment behavior also caused by genetic influences.The M.A.O.A gene with deficiency in monoamine oxidase A, will result in the loss of neurotransmitters, so basically the big picture cause a loss of a conscious thought process in the brain. The lack of this enzyme in the gene is what psychologists believe causes the brain of a serial killer. But not all people who have the M.A.O.A gene is going to have violent behavior or have the urge to kill someone. But there is more research found that criminals with psychopathic tendencies often had a shrunken ventromedial cortex, which effects the area of the brain that controls decision making.

Our goal

Our goal is to detect the MAOA gene in genotype testing. This gene effects your mood and anger within your brain, so with more of these genes the more it could cause anger resulting in violence.


- to run a brain scan/PET scan, so we are able to see if the person has a lower active orbital frontal cortex, which is involved with decision making, behaviors and impulse control

- to get a genotype type test to see if the patient has excessive amount of a gene called MAOA (mono amine oxidase). This gene effects your mood.

- these treatments could inform the patients family and or police that the patient is capable of becoming very violent and in the long run, capable of killing.


We want our research to be able to find out what causes a serial killer to become a serial killer. By taking PET scans on our patients, we should be able to find out if there is an excess amount of anger and if they have the MAOA gene. If the gene shows that there is indeed a problem. The patient should go to therapy, which will be provided for them. The patient should be able to control that anger and be more calm around others, keeping them from having the MAOA gene exposed.

The problem

Serial killers are people who kill multiple people in various ways with no doubt or hesitation. They kill for the joy of it or experiencing the thrill of the kill. They have no regrets about the kill and will keep on killing. One of the main factors leading to becoming a killer is usually because they were abused as a child mentally or sexually. And with the low amount of MAOA genes the person will have violent aggressive behavior towards the person. With the lower active orbital frontal cortex they will decide to hurt/kill the person without thinking about or without second guessing themselves. Before, during and after the kill they will not create an emotionally attachment to there victim, which often leads them to "experiment" on there victims body. Not every person with a higher amount of MAOA genes and the lower activity in there orbital cortex is going to become violent behavior or end up killing someone. Studies show that in male serial killers they have similar chromosomal dysfunction, which causes them to think homicidal thoughts while going through puberty. By going through these test and scans the doctor will be able to tell if the patients is capable of violent behavior/mood which can end up in the patient killing in the future.


MAOA genes and the brain dysfunction is the main cause and reason people become cold hearted killer. MAOA genes (mono amine oxidase) also known as the "warrior" gene are genes that control and effect your mood. People with a high amounts of this kind of gene tend to have a more violent, angry and impulsive mood. The brain dysfunction is found in the orbital frontal cortex, which is located right behind you eyes in the front part of the brain. The orbital frontal cortex is the part of the brain which helps control decision making, behavior and impulse. Scientist have done many test and scans on serial killers and found out that they all have something in common. The scans show that all the serial killers have a high amount of MAOA genes and a low activity in there orbital cortex.

Serial killers physically have something wrong in there brain, unlike murderers who have a vendetta for killing someone. Serial killers simply kill for the pleasure in it, it brings them excitement when they kill, they feel in power over there victim that there in control. Serial killers kill over and over again because or the thrill, they enjoy killing. They don't regret killing there victim or feel bad after and without hesitating they would do it again. One serial killer by the name of Jeffery Dahmer claims that "a part of his was missing." Others say that " the people deserved to die".

Symptoms of becoming serial killer usually happens when they are young or in there teens. During interviews they ask the killers if they ever though about killing people or ever had homicidal thoughts. All there answers were the same, yes. Studies show that most of the male killers had a chromosomal disorder while growing up, which took place during puberty. Which gave the children homicidal thoughts. We want to diagnose M.A.O.A before it gets to this point and hopefully help those who have the M.A.O.A gene before they reach their breaking point.


- $6000 for PET scans

- $600 for 4 hours of therapy.

- $57.80 on 20 1" binders. The binders will contain information for the patient.

- $5000 for our employees

- $160 for 10 lab coats

Total- $11,817

The event details

The M.A.O.A testing will begin on Thursday the 18th of November to Saturday the 20th. The first test will begin at 8:00am to 12:00 noon. Participants will enter the test room individually. They will start with a P.E.T/brain scan. This scan will detect if the participant has a lower active orbital frontal cortex, which controls behavior and decision making. After they will go through the M.A.O.A testing. This test will indicate the amount of MAOA genes (also known as the warrior gene) the patient has. After the test, the participant will be able to leave, and get there results two months later.


A serial killer is commonly defined as a person who has murdered two or more people over a period of more than a month, with down time something they call a"cooling off period" between the murders. According to a FBI study, there have been about 400 serial killers in the United States in the past century. Today there are somewhere between 35 and 300 active serial killers in America. Most serial killers go unnoticed until they are caught in the act and or some even turn themselves in. Some scientist even think serial killers are the victims. They don't just "go crazy" one day and kill a lot of people. You can't choose what genes you have in your body. You can't control who your are. But you can control what you do.


Lee-I am a Stanford graduate, born in Las Vegas and raised in Las Angeles. At a young age my dad become a serial killer. He murdered a couple of people and was sentenced to prison for life. I am a psychologist now as an adult. I've been studying serial killers for quite a while now because of person experience. With this research I can help people like my father and maybe help find a way to diagnose a serial killer.

Abby-I am Abby Meyer, and I am working with Cassie Gibson and Lee Hernandez. I have a PhD in criminology from Yale University. I was born and raised in Omaha Nebraska. I have always been interested in what causes violent behavior. When I heard one of my professors talking about a job to be a researcher about serial killers, I jumped right to it. And this has been my job for the passed year. I would love to take my research to the next level and I hope you see that this research will save many lives in the future.

Cassie-My name is Cassie Gibson and I am a detective for the LAPD. I work with Abby Meyer and Lee Hernandez in Los Angeles, California. I went to the university of New York, NYU. I studied very hard in school, and by the end of four years got my bachelor of science degree in criminal justice. I studied to become a detective in the special victims unit. The special victims unit specializes in serial killers, rapist and any special victims. Serial killers is what made me want to join the LAPD, I've always had an interest in them ever since my mother was killed by a serial killer when I was 18. I find them interesting in the way they kill and how the purely kill for the pleasure and joy of it. I work with Lee Hernandez and Abby Myer by bringing them there patients that they study. I catch the killer and bring him/her to them to run tests and scans to figure out the reason they started killing. Testing them is the easy part, catching them on the other hand is not so easy. You have to learn to think like them in order to catch them. You study his victims to see any patterns they have or if any of the victims have anything in common. After studying the victims bodies and the locations where they found the bodies you can predict where his next move will be, and then we catch him. I love my job because getting a killer off the streets of the city you live in is truly my pleasure.