Member Listing


Lucy Cheke



Other Affiliation



Principal Investigator

Research Summary

Cognition and Consumption:
How do we know when we’re hungry? How do we decide we have had enough to eat? These are simple questions, but the answers are surprisingly complex. Physiologically, hunger and satiety are driven by the balance of a number of hormones in our bodies and brains. Some, like the “satiety hormone” leptin, give information about the amount of energy that is currently stored in fat around the body and act to reduce hunger. Others, like the “hunger hormone” ghrelin, are released when the stomach becomes empty, and work to increase our appetite.

However, psychological factors also play an important role – we tend to eat more when distracted by television or working, and perhaps to “comfort eat” when we are sad. Recent research suggests that a surprising psychological process may also play a role. Memory – especially episodic memory, the kind where you mentally relive a past event – is also an important component in consumption regulation. How vividly we remember a recent meal, for example today’s lunch, makes a huge difference to how hungry we feel and how much we are likely to reach out for this tasty chocolate bar later on. In fact, just the act of thinking about what we last ate can be enough to reduce subsequent snacking by up to a third.

Understanding what drives our consumption and how we instinctively regulate our eating behaviour is becoming more and more important given the rise of obesity in our societies. Currently around 60% of UK adults are overweight or obese: this number is predicted to rise to approximately 70% by 2034.

Obesity and Cognition:
Research from our lab has found that overweight individuals may be less able to form and retrieve episodic memories. The research used a video game in which participants were required to hide items of food around a complex scene and then later remember what they had hidden, where and at what time. We found that people with a higher body mass index (BMI) were less accurate at remembering each one of these factors and in integrated them together into a single detailed event memory. One Central aim of our research is to investigate the causes and mechanisms of memory changes in obesity throughout the lifespan, with the aim of discovering how these might be prevented, or even reversed.



Selected Publications

Mechie I., Plaisted-Grant, K & Cheke LG (In Press), How Does Episodic Memory Develop In Adolescence?, Learning & Memory

Loissel E, Tsang E, Müller S, Deathridge J, Pérez Valle H, Yehudi Y & Cheke LG (2020) The experiences of those who support researchers struggling with their mental health,

Da Silva JSC, Barbosa FF, Da Fonsêca EKG, Da Silva Albuquerque F, Cheke LG & Fernández-Calvo B (2020) Load effect on what-where-when memory in younger and older adults, Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 27:6, 841-853, DOI: 10.1080/13825585.2019.1700207

Szypula, J., Ahern, A., & Cheke, LG. (2020). The role of memory ability, depth and mode of recall in the impact of memory on later consumption. Appetite, 149, 104628.

Loprinzi, PD., Green, D., Wages, S., Cheke, LG., & Jones, T. (2020). Experimental Effects of Acute High-Intensity Resistance Exercise on Episodic Memory Function: Consideration for Post-Exercise Recovery Period. Journal of lifestyle medicine, 10(1), 7.

Cheke, LG., & Clayton, N. S. (2019). What is the role of episodic foresight in planning for future needs? Theory and two experiments. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(8), 1961-1976.

Bonnici, H. M., Cheke, LG., Green, D. A., FitzGerald, T. H., & Simons, J. S. (2018). Specifying a causal role for angular gyrus in autobiographical memory. Journal of Neuroscience, 38(49), 10438-10443.

Davies KM, Cheke LG, Clayton NS (2017) Episodic memory as an explanation for the insurance hypothesis in obesity. Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Cheke LG, Bonnici HM, Clayton NS, Simons JS (2017) Obesity and insulin resistance are associated with reduced activity in core memory regions of the brain. Neuropsychologia. 28;96:137-49.

Cheke, LG, Simons JS & Clayton NS (2016) Higher BMI is associated with episodic memory deficits in young adults. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology DOI:10.1080/17470218.2015.1099163

Cheke, LG (2016) What-Where-When memory and encoding strategies in healthy aging, Learning & Memory, 23: 121-126

Other field of expertise

Experimental Psychology