Professor Chris Oliver BSc, MPhil, PhD, CPsychol

Chris Oliver

School of Psychology
Emeritus Professor of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Chris Oliver is Professor of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Director of the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders. His main research interests are behavioural, cognitive and emotional disorders in people with severe intellectual disability, genetic syndromes and autism spectrum conditions.


  • BSc Human Psychology
  • MPhil Clinical Psychology
  • PhD Psychology


Chris Oliver is Professor of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Birmingham and director of The Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders. He trained as a clinical psychologist at Edinburgh University before completing a PhD on self-injurious behaviour in people with intellectual disability at the Institute of Psychiatry, London.


Undergraduate level 3 module “The Psychology of Severe Intellectual Disability”

Postgraduate supervision

Currently supervising eight PhD students, two MRes students and five ClinPsyD students. Potential postgraduate students can make contact via email and are welcome to visit informally and meet the team. Project areas are described at The Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders.


Behavioural phenotypes in genetic syndromes: the description of behavioural, cognitive and emotional difference and pathways from genetic difference to behavioural phenomenology. Specifically: profiling, causes of and relationship between cognitive and behavioural disorders in Cri du Chat, Cornelia de Lange, Smith-Magenis, Lowe, Angelman, Prader-Willi, Rubinstein-Taybi, Down, Williams, Sotos, 1p36 deletion and Fragile X syndromes; the effects of genomic imprinting on behaviour in Angelman and Prader-Willi syndromes; interactions between features of syndromes and operant social reinforcement; dementia in Down syndrome and early intervention for behaviour disorder in genetic syndromes.

Behaviour disorder in children and adults with autism spectrum disorder and severe intellectual disability. Specifically: applied behaviour analysis, self-injurious and repetitive behaviours, risk markers for the development of behaviour disorder, early and responsive intervention, functional analysis, the association between behaviour disorder and pain and discomfort.

Neuropsychological and behavioural assessment: The development of assessments for people who cannot self-report. Development of informant based and experimental measures of sociability, low mood, hyperactivity, food related problems, repetitive behaviour, dementia related behavioural excesses and deficits and challenging behaviour, neuropsychological assessments of cognitive aspects of dementia and methods of functional analysis.

Other activities

Chair of the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation (UK and Ireland) Scientific and Professional Advisory Committee and member of the Professional and Clinical Advisory Committee for the Smith-Magenis Foundation and the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association Scientific Advisory Committees. Member of Expert Panel on Challenging and Difficult to Treat Behaviors in Angelman Syndrome (USA). Chair Elect: International Scientific and Professional Advisory Committee. Cornelia de Lange syndrome World Federation. Editorial board of Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disability, Autism and Journal on Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities. UK Associate Editor for Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.


Selected publications

Oliver, C., Adams, D., Allen, D., Bull, L., Heald, M., Moss, J., Wilde, L. and Woodcock, K. (In press). Causal models of clinically significant behaviors in Angelman, Cornelia de Lange, Prader-Willi and Smith-Magenis syndromes. International Review of Research in Developmental Disabilities.

Moss, J., Oliver, C., Richards, C., Nelson, L. &. Hall, S.S. (2013). Delineating the profile of Autism Spectrum Disorder characteristics in Cornelia de Lange and Fragile X syndromes. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 118, 55-73.

Davies, L. and Oliver, C. (2013). Age related prevalence of aggression and self-injury in persons with an intellectual disability.Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34,764–775.

Oliver, C., Petty, J., Ruddick, L. and Bacarese-Hamilton, M. (2012). The association between repetitive, self-injurious and aggressive behavior in children with severe intellectual disability. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 910-919. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-011-1320-z

Moss, J., Howlin, P., Magiati, I. and Oliver, C. (2012). Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, 53, 882-891. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02540.x

Richards, C., Oliver, C., Nelson, L. and Moss, J. (2012). Self-injurious behaviour in individuals with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 56, 476-489. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2012.01537.x

Oliver, C., Berg, K., Burbidge, C, Arron K. and. Moss, J. (2011). Delineation of behavioral phenotypes in genetic syndromes. Comparison of autism spectrum disorder, affect and hyperactivity. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorder, 41, 1019-1032. DOI 10.1007/s10803-010-1125-5

Arron, K., Oliver, C., Berg, K., Moss, J. and Burbidge, C. (2011). Prevalence and phenomenology of self-injurious and aggressive behaviour in genetic syndromes. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 55, 109-120. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2010.01337.x

Tunnicliffe, P. and Oliver C. (2011). Phenotype-environment interactions in genetic syndromes associated with severe or profound intellectual disability. Research in Developmental Disabilities.  32, 404-418. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2010.12.008

Woodcock, K., Oliver, C. and Humphreys, G. H. (2011). The relationship between specific cognitive impairments and behaviour in Prader-Willi syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research,55, 152-171. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2010.01368.x

Oliver, C., Sloneem, J., Hall, S., and Arron, K. (2009). Self-injurious behavior in Cornelia de Lange syndrome.: 1. Prevalence and phenomenology. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research,53, 575-589. (doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2009.01179.x)

Oliver, C., Arron, K., Hall, S. and Sloneem, J. (2008). The behavioural phenotype of Cornelia de Lange syndrome. British Journal of Psychiatry, 193, 466-470. (DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.107.044370)

Oliver, C., Horsler, K., Berg, K., Bellamy, G., Dick, K. & Griffiths, E. (2007). Genomic imprinting and the expression of affect in Angelman syndrome. What’s in the smile? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 571-579. (DOI 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01736.x)

View all publications in research portal


Severe learning disability; genetic disorders; behaviour disorder; clinical psychology