Dr Suzanne Higgs

Reader in the Psychobiology of Appetite

School of Psychology

Suzanne Higgs

Contact details

The School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


60 second video iconI am a research psychologist interested in the study of motivated behaviours like eating and drug taking.


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 Reader in the Psychobiology of Appetite.


I teach a level 3 module on the psychogy of eating and I am the Head of Education in Psychology

Postgraduate supervision

Current post graduate students:

  • Jason Thomas
  • Iraida Neira
  • Angela Meadows
  • Panagiota Kaisari
  • Jinyu Lui


ResearcherID: A-9632-2008

Research Group
Behavioural Neuroscience

Research Interests
I am interested in psychobiological influences on appetite, in particular the role of learning and memory in eating behaviour and drug taking and the potential role of these factors in the development of obesity and drug addiction. 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 also interested in social influences on eating. This work has been funded by the ESRC, BBSRC, Leverhulme Trust, MRC and Alcohol Education Research Council.

Other activities

President Elect of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviour (2014)

International Life Sciences Institute Europe: Eating Behaviour and Energy Balance, Member of expert group on sweeteners

Member of Danish Council for Strategic Research

Member of Food cognition and Behaviour Assessment Committee, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research


From 2005 (full list available on request)

O’Brien, C. Harris M. and Higgs S. (2013). Alcohol disrupts the effects of priming on the perception of ambiguous figures, Journal of Psychopharmacology 28.  484-494 (IF 3.3)

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)

Robinson E.L., Thomas J.M., Aveyard, P., Higgs, S.  (2013). What everyone else is eating: A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of informational eating norms on eating behaviour. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 97: 728-742. IF 3.6

O’Brien, C. Harris M. and Higgs S. (2013). Alcohol disrupts the effects of priming on the perception of ambiguous figures, Journal of Psychopharmacology 28.  484-494  (IF 3.3).

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, 12, 1859-1865. (IF 5.1.)

Robinson E.R. Higgs, S. Daley, A.J. Jolly, J., Lycett, D. Lewis, A. and Aveyard, P.  (2013). Developing and Testing a Smartphone Based Attentive Eating Intervention.  BMC Public Health, 13, 639 (IF 1.9).

Robinson, E.L., A. Fleming and Higgs, S. (2013). Prompting healthier eating: comparing the use of health and social norm based messages, Health Psychology, In press (IF 3.9)

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)

Robinson, E.L. Daley, A. Jolly, K. Lewis, A. Lycett, D. Aveyard, P. and Higgs, S. Eating Attentively:  (2013). 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

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

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

Higgs, S. and Jones, A. (2013). Prolonged chewing at lunch decreases later snack intake. Appetite, 62 91-5. IF 2.6

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.

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  

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.

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.  

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

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.

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. 58, 1091-1098.

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  

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.  

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

Higgs, S (2011) Food memories, food intake and food choice Implications for product development. Agro food industry hi-tech 22  50

Speakman, J.R, Levitsky, DA. Allison, DB. et al. (2011). Set points, settling points and some alternative models: theoretical options to understand how genes and environments combine to regulate body adiposity. Disease Models & Mechanisms Volume, 4: 733-745.

 Birak, KS, Terry, P and Higgs, S. (2011). Contextual conditioning of the effects of alcohol on executive function. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 46, 686-693.

Robinson, E.L. Blissett, J. and Higgs, S. (2011). Recall of vegetable eating affects future predicted enjoyment and choice of vegetables. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111,1543-1548.

Higgs, S and Donohoe, J. (2011). Focusing on food during lunch enhances lunch memory and decreases later snack intake. Appetite, 57, 202-206.

Robinson, E.L. Blissett, J. and Higgs, S. (2011). Dietary restraint moderates the influence of peak and end effects on remembered enjoyment of eating. Appetite 57, 207-212

Robinson,  EL, Tobias, T Shaw, L Freeman E & Higgs S. (2011). Social Matching of Food Intake and the Need for Social Acceptance. Appetite, 56, 747-752.

Booth , DA O'Leary, G, Li L and Higgs , S. (2011). Aversive viscerally referred states and thirst accompanying the sating of hunger motivation by rapid digestion of glucosaccharides. Physiology & Behavior,102: 373-381.

Higgs, S. Cooper, A.J.  & Barnes, N.M (2011). Partial reversal of sibutramine-induced anorexia with a selective 5-HT2C receptor antagonist. Psychopharmacology, 214:941-947.

Jenks, R.A. and Higgs, S. (2011) Responding for cigarette puffs under a progressive ratio schedule of reinforcement: effects of dieting status and cigarette deprivation in female smokers. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 520, 530-539.

Jenks, R.A. and Higgs, S. (2011). Reactivity to smoking- and food-related cues in currently dieting and non-dieting young women smokers. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25, 520-529.

Booth, D.A., Higgs, S., Schneider, J., & Klinkenberg,I.(2010). Learnt liking versus inborn delight. Can sweetness give sensual pleasure or is it just motivating? Psychological Science 21(11) 1656–1663.

Birak,KS, Terry, P and Higgs, S. (2010). The effect of cues associated with an alcoholic beverage on executive function. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 71, 562.569.

Attwood, A., Terry, P. and Higgs, S. (2010). Conditioned psychomotor effects of caffeine in humans. Physiology & Behavior 99, 286–293.

Malpass, D. and Higgs, S. (2009) How is cigarette smoking maintained in depression? Experiences of cigarette smoking in people diagnosed with depression. Addiction Research and Therapy, 17, 64 – 79.

Chechlacz, M. Rotshtein, P. Klamer, S. Preissl, H. Porubska, K. Higgs, S. Booth, D.A. Abele, H. Birbaumer N. and Nouwen A. (2009) Diabetes associated diet changes responses to food pictures in brain regions associated with motivation and emotion: an fMRI study. Diabetologia 52, 524–533.

Higgs, S. and Woodward, M. (2009). Television watching during lunch increases afternoon snack intake of young women. Appetite, 52, 39-43.

Higgs, S. Stafford L.D., Attwood A.S., Walker S.C. and Terry P. (2008). Cues that signal the alcohol content of a beverage and their effectiveness at altering drinking rates in young social drinkers. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 43 (6) 630-635.

Pringle, A. Jennings, J. Line,S. Bannerman, D. Higgs, S. and Sharp, T. (2008) Mice overexpressing the 5-hydroxytryptamine transporter show no alterations in feeding behaviour, but increased sensitivity to fenfluramine. Psychopharmacology, 200, 291–300.

Higgs, S. Williamson, A.C.. Rotshtein, P. & Humphreys, G.W. (2008). Sensory specific satiety is intact in amnesics who eat multiple meals. Psychological Science, 19, 623-628.

Higgs, S. Williamson, A.C. and Attwood, A.S. (2008). Recall of recent lunch and its effect on subsequent snack intake. Physiology & Behavior, 94, 454-462.

Higgs, S. (2008). Cognitive influences on food intake: the effects of manipulating memory for recent eating. Physiology & Behavior, 94, 734-739.

Jenks, R.A. and Higgs, S. (2007). Associations between dieting and smoking-related behaviours in young women. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 88, 291-299.

Attwood, A.S., Higgs, S. and Terry, P. (2007). Differential responsiveness to caffeine and perceived effects of caffeine in low and high regular caffeine consumers. Psychopharmacology, 190, 469-477.

Malpass, D. and Higgs, S. (2007). Acute psychomotor, subjective and physiological responses to smoking in depressed outpatient smokers. Psychopharmacology, 190, 363-372.

Higgs, S. Impairment of cognitive performance in dietary restrained women when imagining eating is not affected by anticipated consumption (2007). Eating Behaviors, 8, 157-161.

Higgs, S. and Eskenazi, T. (2007). Dietary restraint and disinhibition are associated with increased alcohol use behaviours and thoughts in young women social drinkers. Eating Behaviors, 8, 236-243.

Brunstrom, J.M. Higgs, S. and Mitchell, G.L. (2005). Dietary restraint andUSdevaluation predict evaluative learning. Physiology & Behavior, 85, 524-535.

Higgs, S. (2005). Memory and its role in appetite regulation. Physiology & Behavior 85, 67-72.

Higgs, S. Barber, D.J. Cooper, A.J. and Terry, P. (2005). Differential effects of two cannabinoid receptor agonists on progressive ratio responding for food and free-feeding. Behavioural Pharmacology, 16, 389-393.

Cooper S.J. and Higgs, S. (2005). Benzodiazepine effects on licking responses for sodium chloride solutions. Physiology & Behavior, 85, 252-258.


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

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