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 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:

  • Leonie Balter Inflammation and cognition, Co-funded PhD studentship with Amsterdam, 2015-2018, co-supervised with Jane Raymond and Jos Bosch
  • 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
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

  • Deputy Head of School
  • Jean D’Alembert Fellowship,  l'Université Paris Saclay 2017-2018
  • President of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviour (2015-16)
  • Editor in Chief, Appetite
  • Member of ESRC review college
  • 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.
  • Scientific Advisory Board for the Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l’Alimentation – Centre for Taste and Feeding Behaviour, Dijon, France
  • Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) for the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center (MDPRC) at the John B. Pierce Laboratory, Yale University, USA.


From 2015 (full list available on request) 
H Index 32

  1. Thomas, J.M. Tomlinson, J.M. Hassan-Smith, Z. Dourish C. T.  and  Higgs, S.  (2017). The 5-HT2C receptor agonist meta-chlorophenylpiperazine (mCPP) reduces palatable food consumption and BOLD fMRI responses to food images in healthy female volunteers. Psychipharmacology, in press.
  2. Higgs, S, Spetter, M.S., Thomas, J.M. Rotshtein, P., Lee, M.D., Hallschmid, M. & Dourish, C.T. Interactions between metabolic, reward and cognitive processes in appetite control: implications for novel weight management therapies. Journal of Psychopharmacology, In press.
  3. Nouwen, A., Chambers, A, Chechlacz, M, Blissett, J Higgs, S., Barrett, T. and Allen, H. A. Microstructural abnormalities in white and gray matter in obese adolescents with and without type 2 diabetes. Neuroimage: Clinical. In press
  4. Whitelock, V., Nouwen, A., van den Akker, O., & Higgs, S. (2017). The role of working memory sub-components in food choice and dieting success. Appetite. In press.
  5. Kaisari, P., Dourish, CT & Higgs, S. (2017). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and disordered eating behaviour: A systematic review and a framework for future research. Clinical Psychology Review, in press.
  6. Thomas, J. M., Ursell, A. Robinson, E. L., Aveyard, P. Jebb, S. Herman, C. P. & Higgs, S. (2017). Using a descriptive norm message to increase vegetable selection in a workplace restaurant setting. Health Psychology, In press.
  7. Satherley, R. M., Higgs, S. and Howard, R., (2017). Disordered Eating Patterns in Coeliac Disease: A Framework Analysis. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, in press.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. Meadows, A., Nolan, L. J., & Higgs, S. (2017). Self-perceived food addiction: Prevalence, predictors, and prognosis. Appetite, 114, 282-298.
  11. 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.
  12. Price, M., Higgs, S., & Lee, M. (2017). Self-control mediates the relationship between time perspective and BMI. Appetite, 108, 156-160.
  13. Satherley, R. M., Howard, R., & Higgs, S. (2016). The prevalence and predictors of disordered eating in women with coeliac disease. Appetite, 107, 260-267.
  14. 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.
  15. 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
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Higgs, S. (2016). Cognitive processing of food rewards. Appetite, 104, 10-17.
  24. Higgs, S., & Thomas, J. (2016). Social influences on eating. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 9, 1-6.
  25. 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
  26. 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.
  27. Higgs, S. (2015). Manipulations of attention during eating and their effects on later snack intake. Appetite, 92, 287-294.
  28. Rogers, P. J., Hogenkamp, P. S., de Graaf, C., Higgs, S., Lluch, A., Ness, A. R., ... & Mela, D. J. (2015). 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, 5, 17-20.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. Lewis, H. B., Forwood, S. E., Ahern, A. L., Verlaers, K., Robinson, E., Higgs, S., & Jebb, S. A. (2015). Personal and social norms for food portion sizes in lean and obese adults. International journal of obesity (2005), 39(8), 1319.
  34. 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
  35. 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
  36. 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
  37. 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
  38. Higgs, S. (2015). Social norms and their influence on eating behaviours. Appetite, 86, 38-44. IF 2.6
  39. 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
  40. Satherley, R., Howard, R., & Higgs, S. (2015). Disordered eating practices in gastrointestinal disorders. Appetite, 84, 240–250. IF 2.6


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