Xiaoqing Gao

   Postdoctoral researcher


University of Louvain (UCL)
Institute of research in Psychology (IPSY)  
Institute of Neuroscience (IoNS)
10, Place du Cardinal Mercier
1348 Louvain-La-Neuve \ Belgium

Tel : +32 10 47 
Fax: + 32 10 47 

Email :



Research Interests

The goal of my research is to understand how socially relevant visual information (e.g., faces) is processed in the brain and the role of experience in shaping these processes. I use visual psychophysical and functional neuroimaging paradigms to test face processing in a rare group of children and adults who missed visual input early in life as a result of congenital cataracts (in collaboration with Dr. Daphne Maurer, Dr. Hugh Wilson, and Dr. Olivier Collignon). This group provides us a unique opportunity to elucidate the role of early visual experience in shaping the development of visual functions and their underlying neural mechanisms.

Recently, I joined Dr. Bruno Rossion’s lab at the University of Louvain to develop and use fMRI and EEG paradigms to measure visual object categorization and face individualization. This approach is based on the principles of Fast Periodic Visual Stimulation (FPVS) that is intensively pioneered in Dr. Rossion’s lab. This new paradigm will not only provide me with invaluable tools for testing cataract reversal patients but will also provide the research community with a highly sensitive measure for characterizing neural mechanisms underlying visual object categorization.



Gao, X., Maurer, D., & Wilson, H.R. (2015). The PCA learning effect: an emerging correlate of face memory during childhood. Cognition, 143,101-107.

Gao, X., Chiesa, J., Maurer, D., & Schmidt, L. A. (2014). A new approach to measuring individual differences in sensitivity to facial expressions: influence of temperamental shyness and sociability. Frontiers in Psychology, 5:26.

Vingilis-Jaremko, L. N., Maurer, D., & Gao, X. (2014). Influence of averageness on judgements of facial attractiveness: no own-age or own-sex advantage among children attending single-sex schools. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 120, 1-16.

Gao, X. & Wilson, H. R. (2014). Implicit learning of geometric eigenfaces. Vision Research, 99, 12-18.

Gao, X., Maurer, D., & Nishimura, M. (2013). Altered representation of facial expressions after early visual deprivation. Frontiers in Developmental Psychology. 4:878.

Gao, X. & Wilson, H. R. (2013). The neural representation of face space dimensions. Neuropsychologia, 51, 1787-1793.

Ding, X., Gao, X., Fu, G., & Lee, K. (2013). Neural correlates of spontaneous deception:  A functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) study. Neuropsychologia, 51, 704-712.

Brown, S. & Gao, X. (2011). The neuroscience of beauty. Scientific American. Http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-neuroscience-of-beauty

Brown, S. Gao, X., Tisdelle, L., Eickhoff, S. B., & Liotti, M. (2011). Naturalizing aesthetics: Brain areas for aesthetic appraisal across sensory modalities. NeuroImage, 58, 250-258. 

Gao, X. & Maurer, D. (2011). A comparison of spatial frequency tuning for the recognition of facial identity and facial expressions in adults and children. Vision Research, 51, 508-519. 

Gao, X. & Maurer, D. (2010). A happy story: developmental changes in children’s sensitivity to facial expressions of varying intensities. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 107, 67-86. 

Gao, X., Maurer, D., & Nishimura, M. (2010). Similarities and differences in the perceptual structure of facial expressions of children and adults. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 105, 81-97.

Gao, X. & Maurer, D. (2009). The influence of intensity on children’s sensitivity to happy, sad, and fearful facial expressions. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 102, 503-521.

Nishimura, M., Maurer, D., & Gao, X. (2009). Exploring children's face-space: A multi-dimensional scaling analysis of the mental representation of facial identity. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 103, 355-375.

Trainor, L.J., Gao, X., Lei J-J, Lehtovaara, K, & Harris, L.R. (2009). The primal role of the vestibular system in determining musical rhythm. Cortex, 45, 35-43.

Gao, X., Wang, Y., & Ge, L. (2005). Combining eye-tracking and EEG –– a new method in cognitive science. Chinese Journal of Ergonomics, 11(1), 36-38.

Wang, Y., Ge, L., & Gao, X. (2004). The effect of field dependence on menu based human – computer interaction. Chinese Journal of Ergonomics, 10(1), 46-47.