Project Description

Dr. Fan CAO

Associate Professor

Prof. LEE Tatia Mei-chun

Office: 6.14

Phone: (852) 3917-2293


2004-2009 Ph.D. Northwestern University, Communication Sciences and Disorders

2001-2004 Master, Beijing Normal University, Psychology

1997-2001 Bachelor, Beijing Normal University, Psychology


My research interests include reading development and disorders, second language learning, as well as joint attention in young children with ASD. I study these research questions as a way to understand neural plasticity. I am interested in the neural mechanisms underlying these developmental and learning disorders, as well as how brain structure and function change following behavioral intervention.


Feng G*, Yan X, Shen L, Perkins K, Mao J, Wu Y, Shi L, Cao F. (in press). Distinct neural correlates of poor decoding and poor comprehension in children with reading disability. Cerebral Cortex.

Yan X*, Jiang K, Li H, Wang Z, Perkins K, & Cao F. (2021). Convergent and divergent structural and functional brain abnormalities associated with developmental dyslexia. eLife.

Cao F, Yan X, Yan X, Zhou H, Booth JR. (2021) Reading disability in Chinese children learning English as an L2. Child Development. 92(2): e126-e142.

Kim S*, Liu L, Liu L, Cao F. (2020). Neural representational similarity between L1 and L2 in spoken and written language processing. Human Brain Mapping.  41(17):4935-4951. doi: 10.1002/hbm.25171.

Cao F, Sussman B, Rios V, Yan X, Spray G, Wang Z, Mack R. (2017). Different brain mechanisms involved in learning different L2s: evidence from native English speakers learning Spanish and Chinese. NeuroImage, 148: 284-295.

* indicates the first author is/was a student or post-doc in my lab.


There are several projects going on in my lab. Along the research line of reading disability, we are examining developmental changes from dyslexic children to dyslexic adults in order to understand when there is reading disability, how one develops reading both behaviorally and neurologically. We are also developing intervention programs for dyslexic children and adults with a combination of brain stimulation.  We are interested in developing a classification model to predict who will respond to the intervention and who will not using multimodal neuroimaging data. Along the research line of second language learning, we are conducting studies to understand why children have an advantage in foreign speech imitation and perception compared to adults. Along the research line of ASD, we are trying to understand why figurative language comprehension is so challenging for adolescents with ASD. We are also studying joint attention in young children with ASD using hyper-scanning with fNIRS.


I would be more than happy to provide internship opportunities. Please contact me.

HKU Psychology