Sijia Zhao
sijia.zhao [at]

Hi, I'm Sijia Zhao

In Chinese, Si (思) means thinking and jia (家) means home.

I am a postdoc with Prof. Masud Husain at University of Oxford, investigating the mechanisms underlying fatigue, motivation and apathy in both health and disease.

During my PhD at Prof. Maria Chait’s lab at University College London, I used eye-tracking and EEG to investigate human hearing and attention. Before that, I did BSc Neuroscience and MSc Computer Science, all at UCL.

As a contributor to Pavlovia and PsychoJS, I am also very experienced with running (especially auditory) experiments online (even before the pandemic).

In general, I am interested how the human brain constructs a model of the environment to effectively adapt in an ever-changing world and evaluate how much effort to exert.

I am very keen to promote the awareness of the life of PhD students and postdocs. Listen to "Research as a Lifestyle! 科研这种生活方式!" on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

In my spare time, I am a popular science writer. Here is my blog and my neuroscience podcast channel. So far, I have published one popular neuroscience book in Chinese and three e-books, two new books will be released in Feb 2022.


Zhao S, Shibata K, Hellyer PJ, Trender W, Manohar S, Hampshire A, & Husain M. (2022). Rapid vigilance and episodic memory decrements in COVID-19 survivors. Brain Communications.
Benhamou E, Zhao S, Sivasathiaseelan H, Johnson JCS, Requena-Komuro M-C, Bond RL, van Leeuwen JEP, Russell LL, Greaves CV, Nelson A, Nicholas JM, Hardy CJD, Rohrer JD, Warren JD (2021). Decoding expectation and surprise in dementia: the paradigm of music. Brain Communications. Brain Communications.
Zhao S, Brown CA, Holt LL, & Dick F. (2021). Robust and efficient online auditory psychophysics with the right auditory hygiene. BioRxiv.
Milne AE*, Bianco R*, Poole KC*, Zhao S*, Billig AJ, Chait M, (2020). An online headphone screening test based on dichotic pitch. Behavior Research Methods. ( * equal contribution )
Zhao S, Chait M, Dick F, Dayan P, Furukawa S, Liao H-I, 2019a. Pupil-linked phasic arousal evoked by violation but not emergence of regularity within rapid sound sequences. Nature Communications 10, 1–16.
Zhao S, Yum NW, Benjamin L, Benhamou E, Yoneya M, Furukawa S, Dick F, Slaney M, Chait M, 2019b. Rapid Ocular Responses Are Modulated by Bottom-up-Driven Auditory Salience. Journal of Neuroscience 39, 7703–7714.
Zhao S, Bury G, Milne A, Chait M, 2019. Pupillometry as an Objective Measure of Sustained Attention in Young and Older Listeners. Trends in Hearing 23, 2331216519887815.
Jagiello R, Pomper U, Yoneya M, Zhao S, Chait M, 2019. Rapid Brain Responses to Familiar vs. Unfamiliar Music – an EEG and Pupillometry study. Scientific Report 9, 1–13.

What's new

📰 Our finding about months-long attention and memory deficits among young COVID-19 survivors is featured by University of Oxford, Reuters, The Independent (UK), Spiegel (Germany), 朝日新聞 (Japan) and more! #long-COVID #online-experiment
💡 Running auditory experiments online and want to find a way to set sound presentation levels for your online participants? Here is a must-read: Zhao, S., Brown, C. A., Holt, L. L., & Dick, F. (2021). Robust and efficient online auditory psychophysics with the right auditory hygiene. BioRxiv. The sound volume setting task is available on Pavlovia and Gorilla
💡 A new preprint on post-COVID-19 deficits in sustained attention and episodic memory: Zhao, S., Shibata, K., Hellyer, P. J., Trender, W., Manohar, S., Hampshire, A., & Husain, M. (2021). Rapid vigilance and episodic memory decrements in COVID-19 survivors. MedRxiv. Long-COVID symptoms, such as fatigue, forgetfulness, difficulty in concentration etc, can persist for months. However, this knowledge was known from investigations on long-COVID patients who either had severe COVID-19 symptoms or at least reported persistent cognitive symptoms. But what about individuals who have not been hospitalised and do not report any ongoing symptoms after recovery? Here we found that they displayed significantly worse episodic memory (up to 6 months post infection) and greater decline in vigilance and motivation with time on task (for up to 9 months). In other words, COVID-19 survivors might have temporary cognitive deficits which they were not aware of.
👶 Something personal… After a few academic babies, I now have a biological baby. Preferred citation: Zhao and Chan (2020) Yurika Zhao. Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital, London.
Thinking of running online experiments with sounds? Want to confirm that listeners are wearing headphone? Try our new headphone screening test! Read our paper for more details. And if you use Pavlovia, I made a website to add the test automatically for you!
I am starting my new post-doc at Masud's lab at University of Oxford! Excited to learn new things about decision-making, motivation, dopamine and Parkinson's disease.
Attending Interdisciplinary Advances in Statistical Learning 2019 in San Sebastian, Spain, supported by a travel grant from the Guarantors of Brain. I will present a poster (#PS-3.19) between 11:20–12:40 on Saturday 29th June at the Miramar Palace.
Attending Biology of Decision Making (SBDM) at University of Oxford, England. I will present a poster (#123) on Wednesday. Come along if you are interested in pupil dilation and/or uncertainty!
Attending Attention to Sound organised by The Royal Society at Chicheley Hall, Newport Pagnell, England.
I was awarded with Brain Travel Award to present my poster Sensitivity to Pattern Changes in Rapid, Stochastic Tone Sequences at the 8th Mismatch Negativity conference in Helsinki, Finland.
I passed my viva with no corrections! Yay!
Presenting my poster at Cognitive Neuroscience Society in Boston, US. Met my academic grandpa David Poeppel (Maria's PhD supervisor).
My book Guide to the Brain is now also available in Traditional Chinese, in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Gave a lecture on pupillometry to PhD students from INTERLEARN, Center for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, University of London.
Presenting my work at the International Conference on Auditory Cortex in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
Presenting three posters at the 2017 Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO), in Baltimore, US. ARO is one of the biggest conference for auditory guys (like me).
Academic visit at NTT, Atsugi, Japan.
My popular neuroscience book 大腦使用指南 (Guide to the Brain) is published in China! It’s the first neuroscience book written by a mainland writer (me!).
Gave my first talk at 2016 ARO, in San Diego, US.
Starting PhD in Auditory Neuroscience at UCL Ear Institute, supervised by Maria Chait and Fred Dick.

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© 2020 Sijia Zhao