Joe McCleery, Ph.D.
         Director of Clinical Research and Development

Pyramid Educational Consultants
         Newark, Delaware


       Also an Associate Research Scientist at the Center for Autism Research, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

   Home    Research & People    Publications    Teaching    Curriculum Vitae

Media Coverage: Lab member, Antonis Christou's, research on the relationship of normal genetic variation associated with levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine with brain activity in young children is covered in an article in Medical News Today.

Invited Talk: Dr McCleery visited the Universite Pierre Mendes-France in Grenoble, France, to give a talk on the topic of face scanning and amygdala/serotonin system functioning in children. He thanks Olivier Pascalis and his Babylab Grenoble for the invitation to speak.

ABAI Kyoto Presentation: Lab member, Tash Elliott, will give a presentation at the Eighth International Conference of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, in Kyoto, Japan, September 2015. She will present the results of two large-scale group design studies of a school-based physical exercise intervention for school pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other special education needs, which was conducted in coordination and collaboration with a special school in England. This research has been conducted under the co-supervision of Dr McCleery and Dr Lynn Koegel (UC Santa Barbara), and with Mr Martin Gore (School of Education, University of Birmingham).

ABAI Kyoto Presentation: Dr McCleery will be involved in several presentations at the Eighth International Conference of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, in Kyoto, Japan, September 2015. He will speak in a symposium on the effects of international clinical research and cultural developments on the Picture Exchange Communication System. He will also Chair a symposium describing interventions for children with autism developed by researchers in Tokyo, Japan.

New Publication: Lab member, Antonis Christou, has had an article accepted for publication in the journal Development and Psychopathology. The focus of this article is the relationship between normal genetic variation in particular genetic Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) and resting frontal cortex activity indexed by EEG, in children. The results of the study provide support for the hypothesis that there is a unique relationship between levels of activity in the left and right frontal cortices during rest and normal variation in a SNP known to impact upon levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HTTLPR). This research was supervised by Dr McCleery, and involved critical collaboration from Yvonne Wallis, Hayley Bair, Satoshi Endo, and Maurice Zeegers.

IMFAR 2015 Conference Presentation: Lab member, Supriya Malik, will present a poster titled "Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of Reciprocal Imitation Training on Children with Autism" at the 2015 International Meeting for Autism Research in May. This presentation describes preliminary results of an on-going Randomized Controlled Trial of an early intervention program being conducted at the University of Birmingham, England, under the supervision of Dr McCleery and Professor Chris Oliver, and in collaboration with Dr. Sissy Stefanidou and Dr. Jo Moss, as well as Dr. Brooke Ingersoll of Michigan State University.

IMFAR 2015 Conference Symposium: Dr McCleery will Chair a Panel Symposium titled "Approaches to Examining and Identifying Neural Biomarkers for Autism: Progress and Challenges" at the 2015 International Meeting for Autism Research in May. This Panel Symposium includes presentations from researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Washington, Seattle, and the University of Birmingham, England. Our laboratory's data-based contribution to this Panel Symposium will be a talk by Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sissy Stefanidou.

SRCD Pre-Conference Presentation: Dr McCleery will give a talk at a Society for Research in Child Development Pre-Conference Meeting on Face Processing, March 18th, 2015, in Philadelphia, PA. The topic of this talk will be studies examining the relationship between amygdala functioning and attention to the eye region of face stimuli in children with and without neurodevelopmental disorders. The studies presented have been conducted by Hayley Crawford of the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Antonis Christou of the Infant and Child Laboratory, both at the University of Birmingham, UK.

Dr McCleery Attends ACEing Autism Event: Dr McCleery was very pleased to be invited to attend and participate in a free tennis clinic held by ACEing Autism. This event occurred in Flushing Meadows, as part of the preliminary activities of the US Open Tennis Tournament. For more information, and to see a glimpse of Dr McCleery at the event, see this video from the Tennis Channel.

New Publications: Two new papers have been accepted for publication. The first was conducted by University of Birmingham Psychology doctoral candidate, Hayley Crawford, and was in collaboration with her mentors Professor Chris Oliver and Dr Jo Moss, as well as Dr Giles Anderson. This article describes the results of an eye-tracking study of individuals with Fragile X Syndrome and individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The second paper was conducted by Eva Antoniou of Maastricht University, and was in collaboration with Maurice Zeegers, also of Maastricht University. The focus of this study was an examination of the relationship of maternal pre-pregnancy weight to emotional and behavioral difficulties in their young preschool-aged children. More information can be found on our Publications page.

Dr McCleery's New Blog: Dr McCleery has a new blog at  This blog is translated from English into Spanish, Polish, German, Japanese, and Greek.

Another Lab Member Moves Onwards and Upwards: We are pleased for lab member, Antonis Christou, who has been offered a Postdoctoral Research Fellow position in the laboratory of Professor Chris Miall, also in the School of Psychology, University of Birmingham. In this position, Antonis will continue his involvement in research looking at the relationship of normal genetic variation to brain and behavioral mechanisms in humans.

Lab Members Move Onwards and Upwards: Several lab members have finished their PhD and/or Postdoctoral studies, and have moved on to new positions. These include Sissy Stefanidou, who is now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Birmingham, Kate Graham who is now a Lecturer in Psychology at Newman University, Katarina Kantartzis who is now a Lecturer in Psychology at Birmingham City University, and Sandra Utz who is now a Lecturer in Psychology at Otto-Friedrich University in Bamberg, Germany.

Dr McCleery takes up new position in Clinical Research and Development: Dr McCleery has moved from his tenured position as Lecturer in Developmental Neuroscience at the University of Birmingham, UK, to an exciting new position with one of the largest educational consulting companies in the field of autism clinical and educational intervention, Pyramid Educational Consultants. In this new position, he will work together with an established group of speech pathologists, behavior analysts, clinical psychologists, and other professionals disseminating evidence-based practice through both workshops and direct consultations to schools and other service providers. Dr McCleery's role will be to both conduct and facilitate research aimed at establishing and developing new evidence-based practices. He will also hold an adjunct position at the Center for Autism Research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Conference Presentation: Postgraduate student Antonios Christou presented his research on associations between resting EEG activity and psychiatric traits in the general population of children at the 45th European Brain and Behavior Society Meeting, Munich, Germany. Co-authors included collaborating postdoctoral fellow, Dr Satoshi Endo, and laboratory director, Dr Joe McCleery.

News Article: Dr McCleery was featured in a news article on nonverbal individuals with autism written by Sarah DeWeerdt for the Simons Foundation for Autism Research, which can be found here.

Educational Technology Research Presentation: Dr McCleery will be presenting at the ABAI Education Conference in Chicago, Illinois, in November. The focus of this presentation will be on digital applications (i.e., "Apps") to support the effective use of verbal praise by teachers in the classroom, to allow children to make agreements to complete educational tasks, and to support children in learning communication skills. This presentation will be co-authored with Lori Frost, MS, CCC/SLP, and Andy Bondy, PhD.

Genetics Research: Dr McCleery and Professor Chris Miall have been awarded £5,000 in start-up funds from the University of Birmingham College of Life and Environmental Sciences to establish a fluent system for the collection and processing of genetic single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data for psychological, neural, and health sciences research across several Schools/Colleges at the University.

Invited Talk: Dr McCleery has been invited to give a talk on behavioural intervention for nonverbal and minimally verbal children with autism at the 2nd International Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders: From Research to Practice, Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research of the National University of Ireland, Galway, in June, 2013.

New Publication: Lab members Tash Elliott, Sissy Stefanidou, and Joe McCleery, along with collaborator Dimitrios Sampanis, have published a review article addressing our current understanding of the role of early motor development in speech/language and communication skills development. This review focuses primarily on current research, research needs, and future directions related to the role that motor-related functioning may play in intervention for increasing speech/language and communication skills for nonverbal and minimally verbal children on the autism spectrum. This review article was published in the journal Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, and is freely available online via Open Access here.

Visiting Scholar Position: Dr. McCleery has been offered an Institute for Mind and Brain Visiting Scholar position by the Provost's Office of the University of South Carolina. This initiative supports distinguished scholars engaged in innovative pedagogy or research. Dr. McCleery is grateful for this opportunity to continue and expand his collaborative research with Professor John Richards, and to establish collaborative research with Professor Jane Roberts, during the spring and summer, 2013.

New Research Grant: We are very pleased to have been awarded funding to continue our collaborative research with Chris Oliver, Jo Moss, and Ian Apperly, here in our School of Psychology. This funding comes in the form of a Research Project Grant from the Leverhulme Trust (PI: C Oliver, Co-PIs: J Moss, JP McCleery, IA Apperly), and supports three years of eye-tracking, electroencephalography, and behavioural research on social cognition in rare genetic syndromes.

New Publication: Lab members Alena Streltsova and Joe McCleery have published an article on the neural time-course of the observation of human and non-human touch. This article will be published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. This article describes the first portion of Ms. Streltsova's PhD research in the laboratory.

Invited Talk: Dr McCleery has been invited to give a talk on early brain development and early behavioural intervention in children with autism at the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry in Tokyo, Japan, December, 2012.

Conference Presentation: Postgraduate student in the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders (CCND), Hayley Mace, presented her eye-tracking research on face processing in individuals with Autism, Fragile X Syndrome, and Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome in a symposium talk at the 15th International Meeting of the Society for the Study of Behavioural Phenotypies, Leuven, Belgium. This research is in collaboration with Hayley's supervisors, Professor Chris Oliver (CCND) and Dr Jo Moss (CCND), Dr Giles Anderson (Oxford-Brookes University), and Dr Joe McCleery.

Neuroimaging Genetics Project: Postgraduate student, Antonis Christou, and Dr McCleery are excited to have begun a new collaborative research project with Professor Maurice Zeegers. In this study, normal genetic variation is being measured along with EEG in a group of young children, in order to further our understanding of the relationship between specific gene-mediated brain mechanisms and functional brain development. This research is supported by the I.K.Y Greek State Scholarships Foundation, with further support from Professor Zeegers' laboratory.

Japanese Visting Fellowship: Dr McCleery has been awarded an Invitation Fellowship for Research in Japan from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science. He is very thankful to his colleagues at Keio University and the National Institute of Mental Health, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Japan, for this exciting opportunity.

Policy-Related Article: The University of Birmingham has published a short article written by Dr McCleery. This Birmingham Briefs article is on the topic of early assessment and early intervention with children with autism and children with language-learning difficulties.

New PhD Fellowship Award: We are very pleased to announce that we have been awarded an Indian Fellowship from the UK-based charity, Autistica. This fellowship will support an Indian Fellow, Ms Supriya Malik, as she conducts a study of the effects of behavioural intervention on brain and behavioural development in young children with autism. This fellowship is funded by a parternship between Autistica and Fortis Healthcare (India).

New Publication: Dr. McCleery has co-authored a paper in which he and colleagues have identified a new behavioural marker that indexes high clinical risk for the development of autism at 18-months of age. This research was conducted at the University of California, San Diego, and involved collaborators at the University of California and the University of Pennsylvania. This paper will be published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Invited Conference Talk: Dr. McCleery has been invited to give a talk at an international symposium on face perception and recognition that is hosted by the National Institute for Physiological Studies in Okazaka, Japan.

New Publication: Along with colleagues at the University of California - San Diego, Harvard Medical School, the University of Washington - Seattle, the University of Ghent - Belgium, and Vanderbilt University, Dr. McCleery has examined developmental changes in brain activity during the observation of other people's actions in children with autism.  This study, which was conducted by collapsing data across several previously published electroencephalography (EEG) experiments, will be published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

New Autism Research Facebook Page: Please visit our new Autism Research Programme Page on Facebook. Click "Like" to receive convenient updates on our autism research results, activities, and opportunities for research participation on Facebook.

New Autism Research Webpage: Please visit our new Autism Research webpage to learn more about our research on children and adolescents with autism, as well as infants and toddlers at risk for autism.

BBC Short on Autism: You may be interested in this video explaining autism that was made by a girl with autism: My Autism and Me.

New Lab Members: We are pleased to welcome new postgraduate students Kelly Leyden, Antonis Christou, and Natasha Elliott to the laboratory. Please visit our "Research & People" page to learn more about these lab members and the exciting new research they will be conducting in the lab.

New Research Grant: We are very pleased to have been awarded funding to continue our collaborative research with Ian Apperly and colleagues, here in our School of Psychology. This funding comes in the form of a Small Grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (PI: IA Apperly, Co-PI: JP McCleery), and supports developmental event-related potentials research on the neural basis of theory of mind processing.

Book Chapter: Lab members Joe McCleery, Sissy Stefanidou, and Kate Graham have written an invited chapter "The neurodevelopmental basis of social and non-social functioning differences in children with autism," to be published in a book titled CARLS Series of Advanced Logic and Sensibility, Volume 5, 2011, by Keio University Press, Tokyo, Japan.

Publication: Along with collaborators Andy Surtees, John Richards, and Ian Apperly, lab members Joe McCleery and Kate Graham have published a paper in the Journal of Neuroscience. Using event-related potentials in conjunction with a time-locked behavioural task, this paper represents the first elucidation of the differential time-course of involvement of posterior (e.g., temporal-parietal) and anterior (e.g., frontal) cortex in theory of mind processing. The paper is titled "Neural and cognitive time-course of theory of mind."

Education and Assessment Conference: We are incredibly pleased to be co-organising a one-day conference on Assessment and Education for students on the autism spectrum, with our colleagues in the School of Education. More information on this conference, which will be held on the 9th of September, 2011, is available here.

Clinical Research Conference: Lab member Joe McCleery has been invited to give a talk in the West Midlands, UK, meeting of the Marce Society. The Marce Society is an International society for the understanding, prevention, and treatment of mental illness related to childbearing - including the effects of on the family. The meeting will occur in July, 2011.

Conference: Lab member Sandra Utz is attending the 11th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society in Naples, Florida. This premiere conference, held in May each year, is a gathering of scientists interested in the neural and perceptual mechanisms of the visual system. Dr. Utz will present her research in the laboratory on the neural mechanisms underlying complex visual search in a symposium talk this year.

Visiting Professor: The lab was very pleased to host Distinguished Professor John Richards from the University of South Carolina, USA, as he visited the lab for 10 days during the month of April, 2011. During his visit we continued our research collaboration, he provided training in EEG/ERP source analysis to several students and postdocs in the lab, and he gave a seminar talk in our School's Brain Imaging Methods Group seminar series.

Lab Members Featured in Postgraduate Studies Video: Lab members are featured in a recent video discussing some of the recent research in the School of Psychology, University of Birmingham. The video can be seen here.

Training and Collaboration Award: Lab member Joe McCleery has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Value in People Training and Collaboration Award. This award provides funds for travel to train and collaborate with Professor John Richards of the University of South Carolina on research aimed at defining acceptable and optimal procedures for infant and child EEG/ERP source analysis.

NHS Affiliation: Lab members Kate Graham, Joe McCleery, and Laura Gyles have been awarded honorary contracts with the National Health Service (NHS) as part of an exciting new University of Birmingham / NHS research collaboration in which they are studying brain and behavioural development in young infants. This research is being conducted in two NHS hospital settings using a portable EEG system in conjunction with behavioural assessments of cognitive and motor development.

New Lab Members: We are very pleased to welcome new postgraduate students, Alena Streltsova and Chiharu Amemiya, as well as new undergraduate research assistants, Zahida Begum and Laura Gyles, to the laboratory. Please check our "Research & People" page to learn more about these new lab members.

BBC Television Coverage: Research in our laboratory was covered by the BBC Breakfast Programme as well as BBC News, on Thursday, the 30th of September. A portion of this coverage can be seen online here at the BBC News website.

Ethics Conference: Lab member Joe McCleery recently attended the Autism, Ethics, and Society Conference at the Institute of Education, University College London. This conference brought together scientists, ethicists, people with autism, and parents of children and adults with autism, among others, to have open and honest discussions about the ethics of current and future autism research.

Conference: Lab members Sissy Stefanidou and Joe McCleery recently attended the International Meeting for Autism Research in Philadelphia. This premiere conference is a gathering of scientists interested in virtually all aspects of autism, including behavioural and pharmacological interventions, genetic and environmental factors that may cause autism, and brain functioning and development in people with autism. Dr. McCleery presented research on emotional face processing and on face and object processing in children with autism at the conference this year.

New Lab Member: We are very pleased to welcome new postdoctoral fellow, Sandra Utz, to the laboratory. Sandra completed her PhD research on visual processing and visual attention in typically developing children and children with Asperger's Syndrome (see our "Research & People" page for more info). In her postdoc, she will conduct event-related potentials and eye-tracking research on visual processing in children with autism.

New Research Grant: We are very pleased to announce that we have been awarded a Pilot Research Grant from the UK-based charity, Autistica. This funding will support research on brain functioning and development and its relationship to language development in toddlers who are at high risk for developing autism spectrum disorders. For more information on this research project and other research supported by Autistica, please visit here.

Participate in Our Research: We are currently conducting studies of infants and children aged 2 months to 6 years of age. If you would like to learn more about how you and your children can help us in our goal to understand normal social-emotional, social-communicative, and language development, and the difficulties and delays in these abilities experienced by children with autism, please contact Dr. McCleery.

Public Engagement in Science Event: Members of our laboratory participated in a "Meet the Scientists" event at ThinkTank, the Birmingham science museum, on Sunday, the 13th of February, 2010, and Friday, the 19th of February, 2010. See a picture [ here ].

Public Engagement in Science Event: Dr. McCleery and his colleagues in the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham will each be giving talks in a symposium titled "How do scientists find out what babies think?" as part of the British Science Festival to be held in Birmingham, UK, on Thursday, the 16th of September, 2010.

In the News: The Simons Foundation has published a news story on research Dr. McCleery conducted while he was a PhD student at the University of California, San Diego [link]

Join Our Research Group: If you are interested in the possibility of joining our group as a PhD student, please visit [here]

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