Li-Hai Tan, Ph.D.

Director and Principal Investigator, Shenzhen Institute of Neuroscience

Professor Li-Hai Tan received his Ph.D. in psycholinguistics from the University of Hong Kong in 1995. Following post-doctoral research training in Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsburgh where he worked with Chuck Perfetti, he worked in University of Hong Kong during 1999-2014, where he was tenured professor on 2007. Prof. Tan has performed research in the field of psycholinguistics and neuroscience at the University of Hong Kong, the Research Imaging Center of the University of Texas Health Science Center, University of Pittsburgh, Intramural Research Programs of the National Institute of Mental Health of NIH, and Chinese Academy of Sciences. He founded the State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Hong Kong in 2005 and served as its director until 2014. He has served as an associate editor of the journal Human Brain Mapping, and is now an editorial board member of the following journals: Human Brain Mapping, Neuroscience, Journal of Neurolinguistics, Culture and Brain, and Contemporary Linguistics. Professor Tan returned to China for a distinguished University Professorship at Shenzhen University School of Medicine in September 2014. His main research interest is to use neuroimaging (fMRI and ERPs) and cognitive techniques to investigate neuroanatomical and cognitive mechanisms underlying language processing, language learning, reading disorders, memory, and attention. The studies conducted by Prof. Tan and his collaborators have shown that the left middle frontal gyrus responsible for verbal working memory critically mediates Chinese character recognition, whereas the left posterior temporoparietal regions critical for English reading are less involved in Chinese reading. He also demonstrated that the neural systems for Chinese and English reading are shaped by learning experience of the two written languages and that activity levels of the left middle frontal cortex serve as a neurobiological marker of Chinese dyslexia. His current work is focused on the study of the neural and genetic basis for reading and translating the basic research findings into clinical practice.

Selected Publications:

  1. Xu, M., Baldauf, D., Chang, C.Q., Desimone, R.*, & Tan, L.H.* (2017). Distinct distributed patterns of neural activity are associated with two languages in the bilingual brain. Science Advances, 3, e1603309. (This research was highlighted by Science, in its This week in Science, July 14, Vol. 357, Issue 6347, pp. 159-161).
  2. Yang, Y., Jia, F., Siok, W.T., & Tan, L.H. (2017). The role of anxiety in stuttering: evidence from functional connectivity. Neuroscience, 346, 216-225.
  3. Chen, H., Gu, X.H., Zhou, Y., Ge, Z., Wang, B., Siok, W.T., Wang, G., Huen, M., Jiang, Y., Tan, L.H., & Sun, Y. (2017). A Genome-Wide Association with Mathematics Ability. Scientific Reports, 7.
  4. Lyu, B., Ge, J., Niu, Z., Tan, L.H., & Gao, J.H. (2016). Predictive brain mechanisms in sound-to-meaning mapping during speech processing. Journal of Neuroscience 36(42), 10813-10822.
  5. Ge, J., Peng, G., Lyu, B., Wang, Y., Zhuo, Y., Niu, Z., Tan, L. H., Leff, A.P., & Gao, J. H. (2015). Cross-language differences in the brain network subserving intelligible speech. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 112(10), 2972-2977.
  6. Xu, M., Wang, T., Chen, S., Fox, P. T., & Tan, L. H. (2015). Effective connectivity of brain regions related to visual word recognition: An fMRI study of Chinese reading. Human Brain Mapping, 36(7), 2580-2591.
  7. Tan, L. H., & Li, P. (2015). Towards an integrative understanding of the neuroanatomical and genetic bases of language: The Chinese context. Journal of Neurolinguistics, (33), 1-2.
  8. Kwok, V.P., Wang, T., Chen, S., Yakpo, K., Zhu, L., Fox, P.T., & Tan, L.H. (2015). Neural signatures of lexical tone reading. Human Brain Mapping, 36(1), 304-312.
  9. Sun, Y., Gao, Y., Zhou, Y., Chen, H., Wang, G., Xu, J., Xia, J., Huen, M.S.Y., Siok, W.T., Jiang, Y., & Tan, L.H. (2014). Association study of developmental dyslexia candidate genes DCDC2 and KIAA0319 in Chinese population. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 165(8), 627-634.
  10. Tan, L.H., Xu, M., Chang, C.Q., and Siok, W.T. (2013). China’s language input system in the digital age affects children’s reading development. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA., 110, 1119-1123.
  11. Perfetti, C.A., & Tan, L.H. (2013). Write to read: the brain's universal reading and writing network. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17(2), 56-57.
  12. Kwok, V., Niu, Z., Kay, P., Zhou, K., Mo, L., Jin, Z., So, K.F., and Tan, L.H. (2011). Learning new color names produces rapid increase in gray matter in the intact adult human cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA., 108, 6686-6688.
  13. Tan, L.H., Chen, L., Yip, V., Chan, A., Yang, J., Gao, J.H., & Siok, W.T. (2011). Activity levels in the left hemisphere caudate-fusiform circuit predict how well a second language will be learned. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA., 108, 2540-2544.
  14. Mo, L., Xu, G., Kay, P., & Tan, L.H. (2011). Electrophysiological evidence for the left-lateralized effect of language on preattentive categorical perception of color. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA., 108, 14026-14030.
  15. Qiu, D., Tan, L.H., Siok, W.T., Zhou, K., & Khong, P.L. (2011). Lateralization of the arcuate fasciculus and its differential correlation with reading ability between young learners and experienced readers: A diffusion tensor tractography study in a Chinese cohort. Human Brain Mapping, 32(12), 2054-2063.
  16. Zhou, K., Mo, L., Kay, P., Kwok, V., Ip, T., & Tan, L.H. (2010). Newly trained lexical categories produce lateralized categorical perception of color. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA., 107, 9974-9978.
  17. Siok, W.T., Spinks, J.A., Jin, Z., and Tan, L.H. (2009). Developmental dyslexia is characterized by the co-existence of visuospatial and phonological disorders in Chinese children. Current Biology, 19, 890-892.
  18. Siok, W.T., Kay, P., Wang, W.S.Y., Chan, A.H.D., Chen, L., Luke, K.K., & Tan, L.H. (2009). Language regions of brain are operative in color perception. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 106, 8140-8145.
  19. Siok, W.T., Niu, Z., Jin, Z., Perfetti, C.A., & Tan, L.H. (2008). A structural-functional basis for dyslexia in the cortex of Chinese readers. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 105, 5561-5566.
  20. Chan, A.H., Luke, K.K., Li, P., Yip, V., Li, G., Weekes, B., & Tan, L.H. (2008). Neural correlates of nouns and verbs in early biliinguals. Annals of the NYAS, 1145(1), 30-40.
  21. Tan, L.H., Chan, A.H.D., Kay, P., Khong, P.K., Yip, L., & Luke, K.K. (2008). Language affects patterns of brain activation associated with perception. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 105, 4004-4009.
  22. Tan, L.H., Laird, A., Li, K., & Fox, P.T. (2005). Neuroanatomical correlates of phonological processing of Chinese characters and alphabetic words: A meta-analysis. Human Brain Mapping, 25, 83-91.
  23. Tan, L.H., Spinks, J.A., Eden, G., Perfetti, C.A., & Siok, W.T. (2005). Reading depends on writing, in Chinese. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102, 8781-8785.
  24. Siok, W.T., Perfetti, C.A., Jin, Z., & Tan, L.H. (2004). Biological abnormality of impaired reading is constrained by culture. Nature, 431, 71-76.
  25. Spinks, J.A., Zhang, J.X., Fox, P.T., Gao, J.H., Tan, L.H. (2004). More workload on the central executive of working memory, less attention capture by novel visual distractors: Evidence from an fMRI Study. NeuroImage, 23, 517-524.
  26. Chan, A.H.D., Liu, H.L., Yip, V., Fox, P.T., Gao, J.H., & Tan, L.H. (2004). Neural systems for word meaning modulated by semantic ambiguity. NeuroImage, 22, 1128-1133.
  27. Li, P., Jin, Z., & Tan, L.H. (2004). Neural representations of nouns and verbs in Chinese: An fMRI study. NeuroImage, 21, 1533-1541.
  28. Tan, L.H., Spinks J., Feng, C.M., Siok, W., Perfetti, C.A., Xiong, J., Fox, P.T., & Gao, J.H. (2003). Neural systems of second language reading are shaped by native language. Human Brain Mapping, 18, 158-166.
  29. Tan, L.H., Liu, H.L., Perfetti, C.A., Spinks, J.A., Fox, P.T., Gao, J.H. (2001). The neural system underlying Chinese logograph reading. NeuroImage, 13, 826-846.
  30. Tan, L.H., Spinks, J.A., Gao, J.H., Liu, H.L., Perfetti, C.A., Xiong, J., Stofer, K.A., Pu, Y., Liu, Y., & Fox, P.T. (2000). Brain Activation in the Processing of Chinese Characters and Words: A Functional MRI Study. Human Brain Mapping, 10, 16-27.