Emilie Qiao

PhD Student


Institution : University of Geneva
Discipline : Neuroscience
Supervisor : P. Vuilleumier
Thesis topic : The impact of emotions on social cognition

General Information

I am MD/PhD student under the supervision of Professor Vuilleumier, at the University of Geneva.

During my medical studies at the Pitié-Salpêtrière School of Medicine, Paris, I pursued the national French program for early research training for medical students (Ecole de l’INSERM) and I took a year off of my medical studies to complete a Master’s degree in Cognitive Science at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris. As part of this program, I worked under the supervision of Professor Cohen in Professor Dehaene’s laboratory, Gif/Yvette, France, on the brains mechanisms involved in reading handwritten words.

During the summer 2010, I went to Stanford, USA, to study the neurodevelopment of humor in children in Professor Reiss’s laboratory, and to learn cognitive behavioral therapy under the supervision of Professor Burns.

I worked two years as a medical resident in Pediatrics and Adult Psychiatry at the University Hospital of Geneva, in order to specialize in Pediatric Psychiatry.

I am interested in understanding the neural basis of positive emotions and social interactions, using functional MRI techniques, in order to enhance quality of life.


2013-present: MD/PhD student (University of Geneva, Swiss National Science Foundation), supervised by Pr. P. Vuilleumier.

2010-12: Medical Residency. Pediatrics, Adult Psychiatry (University Hospital of Geneva). Specialization in Pediatric Psychiatry.

2006-07: Master in Cognitive Science (Ecole Normale Supérieure, EHESS, Paris V). Reading Handwritten and Printed Words in behavior and fMRI, INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit 562, Gif/Yvette, France, (Head: Pr. S. Dehaene), supervised by Pr. L. Cohen.

2004-present: INSERM school (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research). Early research training program for medical students.

2003-10: Medical Studies (Pitié-Salpêtrière School of Medicine, Paris VI).



  • Qiao E., Vinckier F., Szwed M., Naccache L., Valabrègue R., Dehaene S., Cohen L. Unconsciously deciphering handwriting: Subliminal invariance for handwritten words in the visual word form area. Neuroimage (2010).
  •  Szwed M., Cohen L., Qiao E., Dehaene S. The role of invariant line junctions in object and visual word recognition. Vision Research (2009).
  • Vinckier F., Qiao E., Pallier C., Dehaene S., Cohen L. The impact of letter spacing on reading: a test of the bigram coding hypothesis. Journal of Vision (2011).
  • Szwed M., Qiao E., Jobert A., Dehaene S., Cohen L. Dissociated expertise for reading in early and intermediate visual cortex: a cross-cultural fMRI study with French and Chinese readers. Submitted.

Current Research

Cerebral basis of gratitude using functional MRI. Effects of mood on face perception.