Professor Suzanne Higgs

Professor Suzanne Higgs

School of Psychology
Professor in the Psychobiology of Appetite

Contact details

The School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

60 second video iconI am a researcher interested in the psychology of eating. In particular, I am interested in the role that learning and memory processes play in decisions we make about what and how much to eat.


BA, MA (Oxon) PhD (Durham)


I have a degree in Psychology, Physiology and Philosophy from Oxford University. My PhD work was conducted at the University of Durham on the psychopharmacology of appetite under the supervision of Steve Cooper. I completed post doctoral work at Oxford University on the neural bases of learning and memory with Nicholas Rawlins and Susan Greenfield and was then appointed to a lectureship in psychology at the University of Birmingham. My current position is Professor in the Psychobiology of Appetite.


I teach a level 3 module on the psychology of eating called 'Why we eat what we eat'.

Postgraduate supervision

Current postgraduate students:

  • Angela Meadows
  • Panagiota Kaisari
  • Jinyu Lui
  • Rosie Satherley
  • Leonie Balter


ResearcherID: A-9632-2008

Research Group
Behavioural Neuroscience

Research Interests
My research is focused on the role of cognitions such as learning, memory and attention in eating behaviour and the biological mechanisms that underpin these processes. In our group we assess emotional and cognitive responses to foods in adults and children, using both behavioural and brain imaging techniques.  We ask questions about how memory for recently consumed foods affects decisions about future food intake and the factors that determine remembered liking for foods. We are interested in the role of working memory in appetite processes and how social context influences what we choose to eat. This work has been funded by the ESRC, BBSRC, Leverhulme Trust, MRC and Alcohol Education Research Council.

Other activities

  • President of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviour (2015-16)
  • Editor, Appetite
  • Review Editor, Frontiers in Psychology
  • Member of ESRC review college
  • Member of Danish Council for Strategic Research


From 2012 (full list available on request)
H Index 26

  1. Thomas, J. M., Liu, J.  Robinson, E. L., Aveyard, P. Herman, C. P. & Higgs, S. (2016). The effects of liking norms and descriptive norms on vegetable consumption: a randomised experiment. Frontiers in Psychology. 7.
  2. Price, M, Higgs, S. Maw, J. and Lee, M.D. (2016). A dual-process approach to exploring the role of delay discounting in obesity. Physiology & Behavior. In press.
  3. Walker,  S. Higgs, S. and Terry, P. Estimates of the absolute and relative strengths of alcoholic drinks and the influence of alcohol content on young people’s drink choices, In press.
  4. Price, M, Higgs, S and Lee, M.D. Snack Intake is Reduced Using an Implicit, High- Level Construal Level Cue. Health Psychology in press IF 3.6 In press Accepted Oct 2015
  5. Price, M, Lee, M.D. and Higgs, S. Food-specific response inhibition, dietary restraint and snack intake in lean and overweight/obese adults: A moderated-mediation model. International Journal of Obesity In Press, IF 5 Accepted Oct 2015
  6. Higgs, S. Cognitive processing of food reward cues. Appetite. In press IF 2.7 Accepted Oct
  7. Higgs, S and Thomas, J.M. Social influences on eating. Current Opinion in Behavioural Sciences, Accepted Oct 2015.
  8. P J Rogers, P S Hogenkamp, K de Graaf, S Higgs, A Lluch, A R Ness, C Penfold, R Perry, P Putz, M R Yeomans and D J Mela. Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies. International Journal of Obesity, Accepted Oct 2015
  9. Blissett, J., Bennett, C., Fogel, A., Harris, G., & Higgs, S. (2016). Parental modelling and prompting effects on acceptance of a novel fruit in 2–4-year-old children are dependent on children’s food responsiveness. British Journal of Nutrition, 115(03), 554-564.
  10. Higgs, S., Cooper, A. J., & Barnes, N. M. (2016). The 5-HT2C receptor agonist, lorcaserin, and the 5-HT6 receptor antagonist, SB-742457, promote satiety; a microstructural analysis of feeding behaviour. Psychopharmacology, 233(3), 417-424. IF 4
  11. Thomas, JM Higgs, S Dourish CT (2015). Test–retest reliability and effects of repeated testing and satiety on performance of an Emotional Test Battery. Journal of clinical and experimental neuropsychology, 1-18
  12. Thomas, J. M., Dourish, C. T., & Higgs, S. (2015). Effects of awareness that food intake is being measured by a universal eating monitor on the consumption of a pasta lunch and a cookie snack in healthy female volunteers. Appetite, 92, 247-251.
  13. Whitelock, V., Nouwen, A., Houben, K., van den Akker, O., Miller, I. N., Narendan, P., ... & Higgs, S. (2015). Does neurocognitive training have the potential to improve dietary self-care in type 2 diabetes? Study protocol of a double-blind randomised controlled trial. BMC Nutrition, 1(1), 11.
  14. Price, M., Higgs, S., & Lee, M. (2015). Self-reported eating traits: Underlying components of food responsivity and dietary restriction are positively related to BMI. Appetite, 95, 203-210.
  15. Welham, A., Lau, J., Moss, J., Cullen, J., Higgs, S., Warren, G., ... & Oliver, C. (2015). Are Angelman and Prader‐Willi syndromes more similar than we thought? Food‐related behavior problems in Angelman, Cornelia de Lange, Fragile X, Prader‐Willi and 1p36 deletion syndromes. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, 167(3), 572-578.
  16. Lewis, HB, Forwood, SE, Ahern, AL, Verlaers, K,  Robinson, E, Higgs S and Jebb, SA Personal and social norms for food portion sizes in lean and obese adults. In press International Journal of Obesity. (IF 5.3)
  17. Thomas, J. M., Higgs, S., Dourish, C. T., Hansen, P. C., Harmer, C. J., & McCabe, C. (2015). Satiation attenuates BOLD activity in brain regions involved in reward and increases activity in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex: an fMRI study in healthy volunteers. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 101(4), 697-704. IF 6.7
  18. Higgs, S., Dolmans, D., Humphreys, G. W., & Rutters, F. (2015). Dietary self-control influences top–down guidance of attention to food cues. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 427. IF 2.8
  19. Sharps, M. Higgs, S., Blissett J, Nouwen, A. Robinson, E. (2015). Examining evidence for behavioural mimicry of parental eating by adolescent females. Appetite, 89, 56-61
  20. Rutters, F. Kumar, S.J. Higgs, S. Humphreys, G.W. (2015). Electrophysiological evidence for enhanced representation of food stimuli in working memory. Experimental Brain Research, 233: 519-528  IF 2.2
  21. Higgs, S. (2015). Social norms and their influence on eating behaviours. Appetite, 86, 38-44. IF 2.6
  22. Kaisari, P., & Higgs, S. (2015). Social modelling of food intake. The role of familiarity of the dining partners and food type. Appetite, 86, 19–24 IF 2.6
  23. Satherley, R., Howard, R., & Higgs, S. (2015). Disordered eating practices in gastrointestinal disorders. Appetite, 84, 240–250. IF 2.6
  24. Thomas, J.M. Tomlinson, J.M. Hassan-Smith, Z. Dourish C. T.  and  Higgs, S.  (2014). Effects of the 5-HT2C receptor agonist meta-chlorophenylpiperazine on appetite, food intake and emotional processing in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology 231: 2449-59   (IF 4)
  25. Robinson, E., Kersbergen, I., & Higgs, S. (2014). Eating ‘attentively’reduces later energy consumption in overweight and obese females. British Journal of Nutrition, 112(04), 657-661. (IF 3.4)
  26. Robinson, E., Thomas, J., Aveyard, P., & Higgs, S. (2014). What everyone else is eating: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of informational eating norms on eating behavior. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(3), 414-429.IF 3.6
  27. O’Brien, C., Higgs, S., & Harris, M. (2014). Alcohol disrupts the effects of priming on the perception of ambiguous figures. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 28(1), 31-38. (IF 3.3).
  28. Araghi, M.H., Jagielski, A. Neira, I Brown, A. Higgs, S, Thomas, G.N.  Taheri, S. (2013). The complex associations among sleep quality, anxiety-depression, and quality of life in patients with extreme obesity. Sleep, 36: 1859-1865. (IF 6.1)
  29. Robinson, E.L. Blissett, J. and Higgs, S. (2013). Social influences on eating: implications for nutritional interventions. Nutrition Research Reviews, 26: 166-176   IF 5.5
  30. Robinson, E., Higgs, S., Daley, A. J., Jolly, K., Lycett, D., Lewis, A., & Aveyard, P. (2013). Development and feasibility testing of a smart phone based attentive eating intervention. BMC public health, 13(1), 639. (IF 1.9).
  31. Robinson, E.L., Fleming, A. and Higgs, S. (2014). Prompting healthier eating: comparing the use of health and social norm based messages, Health Psychology, 33(9):1057-64 (IF 3.9)
  32. O’Brien, C. Harris M. and Higgs S. (2013). Effects of alcohol on attentional mechanisms involved in figure reversals. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental 28: 484-494 (IF 2.4).
  33. Robinson, E.L., Harris, E., Thomas, J.M., Aveyard, P. and Higgs, S. (2013). Reducing high calorie snack food in young adults: A role for social norms and health based messages. In press International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10     Article Number: 73   DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-10-73  (IF 3.8)
  34. Robinson, E.L. Daley, A. Jolly, K. Lewis, A. Lycett, D. Aveyard, P. and Higgs, S.  (2013). Eating Attentively:  A systematic review of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97, 728-742   IF 6.7
  35. Robinson, E.L. and Higgs, S. (2013). Food Choices in the Presence of “Healthy” and “Unhealthy” Eating Partners. British Journal of Nutrition, 109, 765-771.   IF 3
  36. Robinson, E.L. and Higgs, S. (2013). Food intake norms increase and decrease snack food intake in a remote confederate study. Appetite. 65, 20-24   IF 2.6
  37. Higgs, S. and Jones, A. (2013). Prolonged chewing at lunch decreases later snack intake. Appetite, 62 91-5. IF 2.6
  38. Blissett, J. Bennett, C. Donahoe, J. Rogers S. and Higgs S. (2012). Predicting successful introduction of novel fruit to preschool children. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112 1959-1967. IF 3.6
  39. Robinson, E.L. and Higgs, S. (2012). Liking Food Less: The Impact of Social Influence on Food Liking Evaluations in Female Students. PLOS ONE, 7, 11, Article Number: e48858. IF 4
  40. Robinson, E.L. Blissett, J. and Higgs, S. (2012). The influence of recent tasting experience on expected liking for foods. Food Quality and Preference, 27   101-106. IF 1.84
  41. Robinson, E.L. Blissett, J. and Higgs, S. (2012). Changing Memory of Food Enjoyment to Increase Food Liking, Choice and Intake. British Journal of Nutrition, 108   1505-10.  IF 3 
  42. Grey, J. Barber, D.J.  Terry, P. and Higgs S. (2012). Comparison of the effects of cannabinoid ligands on licking microstructure.  Behavioural Pharmacology 23   Issue: 5-6   Pages: 551-9 IF 2.7
  43. Higgs, S. Rutters, F. Thomas, J. Naish, K.  & Humphreys, G.W. (2012). Attention to food stimuli is enhanced by processing of food in working memory. Appetite, 59, 71-75. IF 2.6
  44. Finlayson, G. Cecil, J. Higgs, S. Hill, A and Hetherington, M.M.  (2012). Susceptibility to weight gain: Eating behaviour traits and physical activity as predictors of weight gain during the first year of university. Appetite, 58, 1091-1098. IF 2.6
  45. Hallschmid, M.  Higgs, S. Thienel, M. Ott, V. and Lehnert, H. (2012). Administration of intranasal insulin intensifies satiety and reduces intake of palatable snacks in women. Diabetes, 61, 782-789   IF 8.3
  46. Ginty, A.T., Phillips, A.C.C Higgs, S. Heaney, J.L.J. and, Carroll, D. (2012). Disordered eating behaviour is associated with blunted cortisol and cardiovascular reactions to acute psychological stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37, 715-724.   IF 5.8
  47. Higgs, S, Robinson E.L. and Lee, M.D. (2012). Learning and Memory Processes and Their Role in Eating: Implications for Limiting Food Intake in Overeaters. Current Obesity Reports, DOI 10.1007/s13679-012-0008-9


The influence of cognitive processes such as learning and memory on eating behaviour