Psychology

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Biological Psychology
Principal research areas are Appetite and Obesity and Drug Use and Misuse. Current members have collectively published over 120 papers and received £1.2 M in external funding since 2001 (including >£900k from the BBSRC, ESRC, MRC and Wellcome Trust). The group publishes in specialist journals which reach a broad readership (e.g., Psychopharmacology, British Journal ofPharmacology, Addiction) and has produced many invited reviews in specialist and general readership journals (e.g., Behavioural Pharmacology, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, Current Medicinal Chemistry, Drugs).
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Group leader: Professor Tim Kirkham
The group has a strong research profile centred on our common background and shared interests in various aspects ofpsychopharmacology and the biological bases of behaviour - from the study of substance abuse, to the use of drugs as experimental tools to explore the neurochemical mechanisms underlying motivational processes.
The work of the group encompasses a broad spectrum of basic and applied research, addressing behavioural and psychological processes at a variety of levels  - from the molecular to the whole personacting within society.
While having diverse specialisms, a common theme in our research is the elucidation of the psychological and biological mechanisms that govern appetitive behaviour – as in the hunger for food and drug craving. Through individual projects, and our close collaborations within the group, we are throwing light on fundamental processes in motivation, and applying our knowledge topsychological conditions like drug and alcohol addiction and appetite and body weight disorders.
Our work is funded by research councils, government agencies, charities and industry, and individual researchers are recognized internationally as leaders and opinion formers in their fields.
The Group has three dedicated laboratories, specially equipped for human psychopharmacology, behaviouralpharmacology and human ingestive behaviour research.
 
Appetite and obesity.  |
| Andrew Goudie, Jason Halford, Jo Harrold, Tim Kirkham and Sonia Tucci are studying the psychological and physiological controls of eating and body weight. Their interests range from neurochemical, hormonal and metabolic signals in appetite and obesity, through drug-induced weight gain, the impact of televisionadvertising on eating and diet, to the use of nutraceuticals to control appetite and assist weight loss. The purpose-built Kissileff Laboratory is one of the foremost facilities for the study of human ingestive behaviour. We also work in close collaboration with other members of the University-wide Liverpool Obesity Research Network, conducting pre-clinical and clinical studies.  |

General Causesof Modern Obesity
Thr risk factors and contributory causes of obesity - a disease of excess body fat characterised by a body mass index of 30+ - include a range of well-documented genetic and environmental factors. But the relative effect of these causes on the development of obesity, remains unclear. Before examining possible causes, note that obesity, especially severe clinical obesity likemorbid or malignant obesity, carries greater risks of morbidity and premature mortality than simple overweight.
Problem 1: Diagnosing Causes For Sudden Rise in Obesity Levels
Any explanation of the root causes of the current obesity epidemic must account for its sudden appearance. Six million American adults are now morbidly obese (BMI 40+), almost twice as high as 1980 severe obesity rates, whileanother 9.6 million have a BMI of 35-40. The percentage of overweight children 6-11 has nearly doubled since the early 1980's. (Source: US Census 2000; NHANES III data estimates). Thus genetic causes are unlikely to be significant. Because while a predisposition to obesity can be inherited, the fact that obesity has increased so much in the last few decades appears to discount genetics as a...
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