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

I 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 the University of Oxford. My PhD work was conducted at the University of Durham on the psychopharmacology of appetite. I completed post-doctoral work at University of Oxford 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:

  • Madhronica Sardjoe Effects of exercise on Appetite and Cognition. Joint PhD with Maastricht University 2018-2021
  • Elizabeth Schneider Interactions between cognitive and metabolic and reward processes in appetite control 2017-2020
  • Elizabeth Martin BBSRC MIBTP /P1vital  funded 4 year CASE studentship ADHD and eating behaviours 2017-2020


Google scholar profile

Research Group
Mental Health and Well-being

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

  • REF Lead for School of Psychology
  • Editor in Chief, Appetite
  • Jean D’Alembert Fellowship,  l'Université Paris Saclay 2017-2018
  • President of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviour (2015-16)
  • Jury member 2018 Danone International Prize for Alimentation
  • Scientific Advisory Board for a Wellcome Collaborative Award: Behaviour Change by Design: Generating and Implementing Evidence to Improve Health for All.


From 2016 (full list available on request) 
H Index 36

  1. Liu, J., & Higgs, S. (2019). Social Modeling of Food Intake: No Evidence for Moderation by Identification With the Norm Referent Group. Frontiers in Psychology, 10.
  2. Collins, E. I., Thomas, J. M., Robinson, E., Aveyard, P., Jebb, S. A., Herman, C. P., & Higgs, S. (2019). Two observational studies examining the effect of a social norm and a health message on the purchase of vegetables in student canteen settings. Appetite, 132, 122-130.
  3. Kaisari, P., Kumar, S., Hattersley, J., Dourish, C. T., Rotshtein, P., & Higgs, S. (2018). Top-down guidance of attention to food cues is enhanced in individuals with overweight/obesity and predicts change in weight at one-year follow up. International Journal of Obesity, 1.
  4. Kaisari, P., Dourish, C. T., Rotshtein, P., & Higgs, S. (2018). Associations between core symptoms of attention Deficit hyperactivity Disorder and Both Binge and restrictive eating. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 103.
  5. Burmester, V., Higgs, S., & Terry, P. (2018). Rapid-onset anorectic effects of intranasal oxytocin in young men. Appetite, 130, 104-109.
  6. Whitelock, V., Nouwen, A., Houben, K., van den Akker, O., Rosenthal, M., & Higgs, S. (2018). Does working memory training improve dietary self-care in type 2 diabetes mellitus? Results of a double blind randomised controlled trial. Diabetes research and clinical practice, 143, 204-214.
  7. Whitelock, V., Higgs, S., Brunstrom, J. M., Halford, J. C., & Robinson, E. (2018). No effect of focused attention whilst eating on later snack food intake: Two laboratory experiments. Appetite.
  8. Balter, L. J., Hulsken, S., Aldred, S., Drayson, M. T., Higgs, S., van Zanten, J. J. V., ... & Bosch, J. A. (2018). Low-grade inflammation decreases emotion recognition–Evidence from the vaccination model of inflammation. Brain, behavior, and immunity.
  9. Satherley, R. M., Howard, R., & Higgs, S. (2018). Development and Validation of the Coeliac Disease Food Attitudes and Behaviours Scale. Gastroenterology Research and Practice, 2018.
  10. Higgs, S., & Spetter, M. S. (2018). Cognitive Control of Eating: the Role of Memory in Appetite and Weight Gain. Current obesity reports, 1-10.
  11. Thomas, J. M., Dourish, C. T., Tomlinson, J., Hassan-Smith, Z., Hansen, P. C., & Higgs, S. (2018). The 5-HT 2C receptor agonist meta-chlorophenylpiperazine (mCPP) reduces palatable food consumption and BOLD fMRI responses to food images in healthy female volunteers. Psychopharmacology, 235(1), 257-267.
  12. Whitelock, V., Nouwen, A., van den Akker, O., & Higgs, S. (2018). The role of working memory sub-components in food choice and dieting success. Appetite, 124, 24-32..
  13. Higgs, S., Spetter, M. S., Thomas, J. M., Rotshtein, P., Lee, M., Hallschmid, M., & Dourish, C. T. (2017). Interactions between metabolic, reward and cognitive processes in appetite control: Implications for novel weight management therapies. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 31(11), 1460-1474.
  14. Nouwen, A., Chambers, A., Chechlacz, M., Higgs, S., Blissett, J., Barrett, T. G., & Allen, H. A. (2017). Microstructural abnormalities in white and gray matter in obese adolescents with and without type 2 diabetes. NeuroImage: Clinical, 16, 43-51.
  15. Kaisari, P., Dourish, C. T., & Higgs, S. (2017). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and disordered eating behaviour: A systematic review and a framework for future research. Clinical psychology review, 53, 109-121.
  16. Thomas, J. M., Ursell, A., Robinson, E. L., Aveyard, P., Jebb, S. A., Herman, C. P., Higgs, S. (2017). Using a descriptive social norm to increase vegetable selection in workplace restaurant settings. Health Psychology, 36(11), 1026.
  17. Satherley, R. M., Higgs, S., & Howard, R. (2017). Disordered eating patterns in coeliac disease: a framework analysis. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 30(6), 724-736.
  18. Meadows, A., Higgs, S., Burke, S.E., Dovidio, J.F., van Ryn, M. & Phelan, S.M. (2017). Social dominance orientation, dispositional empathy, and need for cognitive closure moderate the impact of empathy-skills training, but not patient contact, on medical students’ negative attitudes toward higher-weight patients. Frontiers in Psychology
  19. Robinson, E., Haynes, A., Hardman, C. A., Kemps, E., Higgs, S., & Jones, A. (2017). The bogus taste test: Validity as a measure of laboratory food intake. Appetite, 116, 223-231.
  20. Meadows, A., Nolan, L. J., & Higgs, S. (2017). Self-perceived food addiction: Prevalence, predictors, and prognosis. Appetite, 114, 282-298.
  21. Hermans, R. C., Hermsen, S., Robinson, E., Higgs, S., Mars, M., & Frost, J. H. (2017). The effect of real-time vibrotactile feedback delivered through an augmented fork on eating rate, satiation, and food intake. Appetite, 113, 7-13.
  22. Price, M., Higgs, S., & Lee, M. (2017). Self-control mediates the relationship between time perspective and BMI. Appetite, 108, 156-160.
  23. Satherley, R. M., Howard, R., & Higgs, S. (2016). The prevalence and predictors of disordered eating in women with coeliac disease. Appetite, 107, 260-267.
  24. Allen, H. A., Chambers, A., Blissett, J., Chechlacz, M., Barrett, T., Higgs, S., & Nouwen, A. (2016). Relationship between Parental Feeding Practices and Neural Responses to Food Cues in Adolescents. PloS one, 11(8), e0157037.
  25. Price, M., Higgs, S., Lee, M. (2016). Snack intake is reduced using an implicit, high-level construal cue. Health Psychology, 35, 923-926. IF 3.6
  26. Hermsen, S., Frost, J. H., Robinson, E., Higgs, S., Mars, M., & Hermans, R. C. (2016). Evaluation of a smart fork to decelerate eating rate. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(7), 1066-1067.
  27. Walker, S., Higgs, S., & Terry, P. (2016). Estimates of the absolute and relative strengths of diverse alcoholic drinks by young people. Substance Use and Misuse, 51(13), 1781-1789.
  28. Kumar, S., Higgs, S., Rutters, F., & Humphreys, G. W. (2016). Biased towards food: Electrophysiological evidence for biased attention to food stimuli. Brain and cognition, 110, 85-93.
  29. 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 Randomized Experiment. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.
  30. Price, M., Higgs, S., Maw, J., & Lee, M. (2016). A dual-process approach to exploring the role of delay discounting in obesity. Physiology & Behavior, 162, 46-51.
  31. 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.
  32. Price, M., Lee, M., & Higgs, S. (2016). Food-specific response inhibition, dietary restraint and snack intake in lean and overweight/obese adults: a moderated-mediation model. International Journal of Obesity, 40(5), 877-882.
  33. Higgs, S. (2016). Cognitive processing of food rewards. Appetite, 104, 10-17.
  34. Higgs, S., & Thomas, J. (2016). Social influences on eating. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 9, 1-6.
  35. 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
  36. Thomas, J. M., Higgs, S., & Dourish, C. T. (2016). Test–retest reliability and effects of repeated testing and satiety on performance of an Emotional Test Battery. Journal of clinical and experimental neuropsychology, 38(4), 416-433.

View all publications in research portal


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