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Department of Psychology

Faculty and Staff Directory

Xiaoxue (Jessie) Fu, Ph.D.

Title: Assistant Professor in Cognitive & Neural Science
Department: Department of Psychology
College of Arts and Sciences

1800 Gervais Street Columbia, SC 29201

Photo of Jessie Fu

*** Dr. Fu is accepting graduate students for the 2024 admission cycle*** 


Dr. Fu obtained her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Pennsylvania State University. She completed her postdoctoral training at the Abigail Wexner Research Institute of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the University of South Carolina (USC), At USC, she directed the ASCENT Lab and is affiliated with the Institute for Mind and Brain and the Carolina Autism and Neurodevelopment (CAN) Research Center.


My overarching research goal is to study the impact of early vulnerability on the development of the neural basis of social cognition and its association with socioemotional adjustment. My research focuses on implementing a variety of measurements, including eye tracking, fNIRS, and fMRI, to assess how children process social information in different contexts. I aim to examine and characterize the neurocognitive and behavioral processes that lead to either adaptive or maladaptive developmental pathways for at-risk children. I hope my research program can inform who, what mechanisms, and when to intervene. The topics of my research include: 

Identifying the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying multiple attention functions during development. Attention plays a pivotal role in learning and socioemotional development. Individual differences in attention patterns are early-emergent. Hence, 1) I take a developmental approach to track the development of attention functions from infancy. Attention is a multi-component system. 2) My research implements multiple screen-based task paradigms to capture the different attention functions operating at different time scales. 3) My research also uses multiple measurements to assess attention at the behavioral, cognitive, and neural levels. Visual attention is embodied in the sensory-motor system. 4) I take my research “out of the screen” to study how attention unfolds moment-to-moment during real-life social interactions.

Studying attention bias as a risk mechanism for socioemotional maladjustment. Maladaptive attention patterns act as a tether that binds at-risk children to a developmental trajectory toward socioemotional problems. Early risk factors (e.g., child fearful temperament and parental psychopathology) influence children’s attention patterns toward socioemotional information in children’s environments. For a sub-group of high-risk children, aberrant attention mechanisms convey risks to internalizing and externalizing problems even before reaching clinical diagnoses. Together, my work provides important developmental snapshots of how attention bias to socioemotional stimuli shapes the developmental pathway from early risk to subsequent psychopathology.

Examining the impacts of children’s social experiences on the development of social cognitive functions. Parent-child interactions provide a key context that supports learning and shapes children’s emotional reactivity and regulation. I am interested in studying parent-child dyadic processes (e.g., parent-child attention coordination). I am also interested in examining how these dyadic processes modulate the impacts of children’s early adverse experiences (e.g., low SES and parental psychopathology) on children’s social cognitive and socioemotional development.

Representative Publications: 

Fu, X., & Pérez-Edgar, K.E. (2019). Threat-related attention bias in socioemotional development: A critical review and methodological considerations. Developmental Review, 51, 31-57. 

Fu, X., Nelson, E.E., Borge, M., Buss, K.A., Pérez-Edgar, K.E. (2019). Stationary and ambulatory attention patterns are differentially associated with early temperamental risk for socioemotional problems: Preliminary evidence from a multimodal eye-tracking investigation. Development and Psychopathology, 31, 971-988. 

Fu, X., Hung, A., DeSilva, A., Tyler, B., Mattson, W.I., Hoskinson, K., Taylor, H.G., Nelson, E.E. (2022). Development of the Mentalizing Network Structures and Theory of Mind in Extremely Preterm Youth. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 

Fu, X., & Richards, J.E. (2021). devfOLD: A Toolbox for Designing Age-Specific fNIRS Channel Placement. Neurophotonics. 8(4) 045003. 

Fu, X., Taber-Thomas, B.C., Pérez-Edgar, K.E. (2017). Frontolimbic functioning during threat-related attention: Relations to early behavioral inhibition and anxiety in children. Biological Psychology122, 98-109.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.