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David Booth works full-time in research and research teaching as an honorary professor at the School of Psychology in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences of the University of Birmingham (UK)[citation needed]. According to his Web page [1] he investigates the ways in which an individual's life works. His research and teaching centre on the processes in the mind that fit acts and reactions of human beings and animals to the passing situation.

Educational roots

Booth studied chemistry, physics and mathematics in school, then chemistry—in particular chemical physics—at university. Another student on a philosophy and psychology degree introduced him to the 1930s Cambridge work in analysis of the functioning of language

Academic career

Booth has been Professor of Psychology, earlier Reader in Physiological Psychology, Senior Lecturer and initially Lecturer in the Birmingham School of Psychology since 1972, with research staff funded by MRC, HEC,[2] SERC, MAFF, AFRC and BBSRC. In 1966-72, he was Research Fellow in the Laboratory of Experimental Psychology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex, on his own funds from SERC, MRC and MHRF.[3] He was elected to the Experimental Psychology Society in 1967. On joining the British Psychological Society in 1983, he was made a Fellow and later become Chartered Psychologist, a founding member of the Division of Health Psychology and professionally practising member of the Division for Teachers and Researchers in Psychology, ending as chair. His first employment within Psychology was as a postdoc at the Yale University Graduate School in 1964-6, initiating work on metabolic biochemistry and neuropharmacology in the laboratories of Neal E. Miller on his funds from NIH. From 1959 to 1964 he was employed as a graduate research worker in Henry McIlwain's Department of Neurochemistry at the Institute of Psychiatry (and briefly the Institute of Neurology) in the University of London. After 3 years of registered study for a PhD in Biochemistry, he graduated by thesis in 1964. He registered for two years for a BA in Philosophy and Psychology (with Sociology option) at Birkbeck College, University of London, graduating with First Class Honours in 1962. He went up to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1955 to read Chemistry with Biochemistry, following secondary education at Dulwich College.


David Booth carried out work that contradicted the theory that dual centres of the hypothalamus control eating, the lateral hypothalamus for hunger [4] and the ventromedial hypothalamus for satiety [5] and began to replace it with a theory of the control of food choice and food intakeintake through learnt connections distributed around the brain.[6] With colleagues he built a simulation of the physiological and learning mechanisms influencing eating patterns in people and laboratory animals,[7] and extended it to include cultural and interpersonal influences.[8]

Booth's evidence with colleagues is that the regulation of metabolic states of the body through learnt eating can extend to nutrient-specific selection among foods. A flavoured food becomes more highly preferred when protein is lacking in the most recent meal, if protein in that distinctive food had previously repaired a lack of protein in people[9] and in rats.[10] People may have a similar learnt specific appetite for energy, whether from carbohydrate or fat (or indeed protein); Booth has suggested the same for water[11] but not for salt, despite the lack of the innate appetite for sodium ions seen in several other species.[12]

One of Booth's major contributions is a theory that influences are at their strongest when combined at their personally learnt levels,[13] the individual's 'norm' for the situation.[14] The theory was epitomised by the description of the phenomenon and coining of the term conditioned satiety.[15] Booth also became well known for his criticisms of concepts of fixed palatabilities and satieties,[16] confusion between preference and pleasure,[17] and the failure of weight-loss products and hormone analogues.[18] He considered it scientifically incoherent to claim that a medication or food constituent had a specifiable satiating power and an effect in itself on weight. He joined forces with the human rights activist Phil Booth[19] to advocate culturally and biologically realistic education in personal tailoring of changes in specific patterns of behaviour in order to slow the increase in prevalence of obesity.[20]

Booth's research from the start was distinctive in its attention to the performance of each individual in the situation investigated. This approach culminated in the construction from classic ideas and findings in psychology of a set of determinate mechanisms by which, on the basis of previous experience, an individual decides what to do as circumstances change.[21] The theory encompasses the culture's perceived and expressed symbols as well as material stimulation of the senses and movements of the muscles. Hence it is being extended to facial signals of emotion, empathy for perceived personal need, and marketed concepts in interaction with products' sensed material characteristics.[22]


  1. Booth's personal page at the University of Birmingham ([1])
  2. Health Education Council, now Public health guidance in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
  3. Mental Health Research Fund, now Mental Health Foundation
  4. Booth DA. Localization of the adrenergic feeding system in the rat diencephalon. Science 1967;158:515‑7. Matthews JW, Booth DA, Stolerman IP. Factors influencing feeding elicited by intracranial noradrenaline in rats. Brain Res. 1978;141:119‑28. Cp. Ungerstedt U. Acta physiol Scand 1970;80(4):35A-36A, 1971; Suppl367:97-122.
  5. Booth DA, Toates FM, Platt SV. Control system for hunger and its implications in animals and man, in D Novin, W Wyrwicka, GA Bray (eds) Hunger 1976; New York: Raven Press:127‑42. Duggan JP, Booth DA. Obesity, overeating and rapid gastric emptying in rats with ventromedial hypothalamic lesions. Science 1986;231:609‑11. Duggan JP, Booth DA. Failure to demonstrate that accelerated gastric emptying after VMH lesions is secondary to excess weight gain. Amer. J. Physiol. 1991;261:515-6.
  6. Booth DA. Vertebrate brain ribonucleic acids and memory retention. Psychol. Bull. 1967;68;149‑77. Lovett D, Goodchild P, Booth DA. Depression of intake of nutrient by association of its odor with effects of insulin. Psychon. Sci. 1968;11:27-8. Booth DA, Miller NE. Lateral hypothalamus mediated effects of a food signal on blood glucose concentration. Physiol. Behav. 1969;4:1003-9. Booth DA, Simson PC. Food preferences acquired by association with variations in amino acid nutrition. Q. J. Exp. Psychol. 1971;23:135-45. Booth DA, Lovett D, McSherry GM. Postingestive modulation of the sweetness preference gradient in the rat. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 1972;78:485-512. Booth DA, Lee M, McAleavey C. Acquired sensory control of satiation in man. Br. J. Psychol. 1976;67:137-47.
  7. Toates FM, Booth DA. Control of food intake by energy supply. Nature 1974;251;710‑1. Booth DA, Mather P. Prototype model of human feeding, growth and obesity, in DA Booth (ed) Hunger models 1978;London: Academic Press 279‑322.
  8. Booth DA. A simulation model of psychobiosocial theory of human food-intake controls. Int. J. Vitamin Nutr. Res. 1988;58:55-69. Booth DA. Physiological regulation through learnt control of appetites by contingencies among signals from external and internal environments. Appetite 2008;51:433-41.
  9. Gibson EL, Wainwright CJ, Booth DA. Disguised protein in lunch after low-protein breakfast conditions food-flavor preferences dependent on recent lack of protein intake. Physiol. Behav. 1995;58:363-71.
  10. Baker BJ, Booth DA, Duggan JP, Gibson EL. Protein appetite demonstrated: learned specificity of protein‑cue preference to protein need in adult rats. Nutr. Res. 1987;7:481-7.
  11. Booth DA. Influences on human drinking behaviour, in DJ Ramsay, DA Booth (eds) Thirst: physiological and psychological aspects 1991; London: Springer-Verlag:52-72.
  12. Harris G, Thomas A, Booth DA. Development of salt taste preference in infancy. Dev. Psychol. 1991;26:534-38. Conner MT, Booth DA, Clifton VJ, Griffiths RP. Individualized optimization of the salt content of white bread for acceptability. J. Food Sci. 1988;53:549-54.
  13. Booth DA. Food conditioned eating preferences and aversions with interoceptive elements: [learnt] appetites and satieties. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1985;443:22-37.
  14. Booth DA, Freeman RPJ. Discriminative feature integration by individuals. Acta Psychol. 1993;84(1):1-16.
  15. Booth DA. Conditioned satiety in the rat. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 1972;81(3):457-71.
  16. Booth DA. How not to think about immediate dietary and postingestional influences on appetites and satieties. Appetite 1990;14:171-9.
  17. Booth DA, Higgs S. Learned liking versus inborn delight. Can sweetness give sensual pleasure or is it just motivating? Psychol. Sci. 2010;21:1656-63.
  18. Booth DA, Nouwen A. Weight is controlled by eating patterns, not by foods or drugs. Reply to comments on “Satiety -- no way to slim". Appetite 2011;57(3):784-90.
  19. Phil Booth (UK) professional profile
  20. Booth DA, Booth P. Targeting cultural changes supportive of the healthiest lifestyle patterns. A biosocial evidence-base for prevention of obesity. Appetite 2011;56:210-21.
  21. Booth DA, Freeman RPJ. Discriminative feature integration by individuals. Acta Psychol. 1993;84(1):1-16. Booth DA, Sharpe O, Freeman RPJ, Conner MT. Insight into sight, taste, smell, touch and hearing in perception of food. Seeing Perceiv. 2011;24:485-511.
  22. Freeman RPJ, Booth DA. Users of ‘diet’ drinks who think that sweetness is calories. Appetite 2010;55:152-5.