Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences
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Dr John Menzies

Obesity is a global problem with no reliable solution. On the face of it, the problem is simple - obesity arises when an individual eats more calories than they expend - but the dogmatic solution of eat-less-do-more often fails.

Dr John Menzies

Director of Undergraduate Programmes, University of Edinburgh-Zhejiang University Joint Institute

  • Hugh Robson Building
  • 15 George Square
  • Edinburgh EH8 9XD

Contact details

Research Theme


The brain is crucial in eating behaviour, not only the conscious decision-making systems, but the unconscious systems that constantly monitor the body’s energy status, and those that alert us to potentially rewarding foods. Thus, the amount and type of food consumed depends not only on an organism’s energy balance and nutrient requirements but also on the rewarding properties of certain foods.

I am interested in the neural correlates of appetite control, both the homeostatic systems and the brain circuits involved in reward. I focus on oxytocin. This hormone is best known for its role in maternal behaviours, but it also has an emerging role in appetite control. There is evidence that oxytocin is released in the brain as a consequence of feeding-related behaviours, and can act at a diverse range of targets. I use translational models to understand the control of oxytocin release and the mechanisms underlying the behavioural consequences of oxytocin’s neurohormonal action in the brain.


Team Members


Selected Publications

Fabrice Plaisier, Catherine Hume, John Menzies. Neural connectivity between the hypothalamic supramammillary nucleus and appetite- and motivation-related regions of the rat brain. J Neuroendocrinol 2020. 32(2), e12829

Le May MV, Hume C, Sabatier N, Schéle E Bake T1, Bergström U, Menzies J, Dickson SL. Activation of the rat hypothalamic supramammillary nucleus by food anticipation, food restriction or ghrelin administration. J Neuroendocrinol. 2018 e12676. doi: 10.1111/jne.12676.

Hume C, Sabatier N, Menzies J. High-sugar but not high-fat food activates supraoptic neurones in the male rat. Endocrinology. 2017 158: 2200-2211.

Hume C, Jachs B, Menzies J. Homeostatic responses to palatable food consumption in satiated rats. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 24:2126-32.

Leng G, et al. The determinants of food choice. Proc Nutr Soc. 2016 1:1-12.

Ludwig M, Apps D, Menzies J, Patel JC, Rice ME. Dendritic release of neurotransmitters. Compr Physiol. 2016 7:235-252.

Hebebrand J, Albayrak Ö, Adan R, Antel J, Dieguez C, de Jong J, Leng G, Menzies J, Mercer JG, Murphy M, van der Plasse G, Dickson SL. "Eating addiction", rather than "food addiction", better captures addictive-like eating behavior. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014 47:295-306.

Sabatier N, Leng G, Menzies JR. Oxytocin, feeding, and satiety. Front Endocrinol. 2013 4:35.

Information for students:

Willingness to discuss research projects with undergraduate and postgraduate students: YES - please click here