Gary Libben

Professor, Applied Linguistics

PhD (McGill University)

Office: MC D450L
905-688-5550 x3704

Gary Libben is a psycholinguist and neurolinguist who is working on the development of new models and research methods to advance our understanding of how words are represented in the mind and brain.

He received a PhD in Linguistics from McGill University in 1986 and holds a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from Concordia University.

Dr. Libben is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, co-founder and editor of the journal The Mental Lexicon, founding director and co-director of the University of Alberta’s Centre for Comparative Psycholinguistics, and former President of the Canadian Linguistics Association.

Words are the backbone of human language ability. Gary Libben’s research is focused on questions of how words may be represented in the human mind and brain, how they are linked to one another, and how they are accessed in the processes of language comprehension and production. To address these questions, he uses a variety of psycholinguistic laboratory techniques. His experimentation has been conducted across languages (e.g., English, French, German, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, and Kannada) and across populations (e.g., persons with aphasia, adults, and children).


  • Libben, G., Jarema, G., & Kuperman, V. (forthcoming). Polylogues on the mental lexicon. John Benjamins.
  • Libben, G. (in preparation). The nature of language: Psycholinguistics and human communication. Wiley Blackwell.
  • Libben, M., Goral, M., & Libben, G. (2017). Bilingualism: A framework for understanding the mental lexicon. John Benjamins. http
  • Jarema, G., & Libben, G. (Eds.). (2015). Phonological and phonetic aspects of lexical processing. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. http
  • Libben, G., Jarema, G., & Westbury, C. (Eds.). (2012). Methodological and analytic frontiers in lexical research. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. http
  • Jarema, G., & Libben, G. (Eds.) (2007). Core perspectives on the mental lexicon. Oxford: Elsevier.
  • Libben, G., & Jarema, G. (Eds.) (2006). The representation and processing of compound words. Oxford University Press. http
  • Wiebe, G., Libben, G., Priestly, T., Smyth, R., & Wang, S. (2006). Phonology, morphology, and the empirical imperative: Papers in honour of Bruce Derwing. Taipei: Crane. http
  • Archibald, J., & Libben, G. (1995). Research perspectives on second language acquisition. Toronto: Copp Clark Pitman. http
  • Paradis, M. (in collaboration with) Libben, G. (1987). The assessment of bilingual aphasia. Hillsdale N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum. http

Articles and chapters:

  • Gallant, J. & Libben, G. (2020). Can the maze task be even more amazing? The Mental Lexicon, 15(2).
  • Libben, G. (2020) What can we learn from novel compounds? In S. Schulte im Walde & E. Smolka, (Eds.) The role of constituents in multi-word expressions: An interdisciplinary, cross-lingual perspective. Berlin: Language Science Press (pp. 107-128).
  • Libben, G., Gagné, C, & Dressler, W.U. (2020). The representation and processing of compounds words. In V. Pirreli, I. Plag & W.U. Dressler (Eds.), Word knowledge and word usage: A cross-disciplinary guide to the mental lexicon. De Gruyter Mouton.
  • Libben, G. (2020). Brain and language. In W. O’Grady & J. Archibald (Eds.), Contemporary linguistic analysis (9th ed.). Toronto, Canada: Pearson.
  • Libben, G. (2020. Psycholinguistics: The study of language processing. In W. O’Grady & J. Archibald (Eds.), Contemporary linguistic analysis (9th ed.). Toronto, Canada: Pearson.
  • Gallant, J. & Libben, G. (2019). No lab, no problem.  The Mental Lexicon, 14(1), 152–168
  • Libben, G. (2019). Words as action: consequences for the monolingual and bilingual lexicon. In A. Tsedryk and C. Doe (Eds.), The description, measurement and pedagogy of words. Cambridge Scholars Press. pdf
  • Spalding, T. Gagné, C., Nisbet, K., Chamberlain, J., & Libben, G. (2019). If birds have sesamoid bones, do blackbirds have sesamoid bones? The modification effect with known compound words. Frontiers in Psychology, 10
  • Libben, G., & Schwieter, J. W. (2019). Lexical organization and reorganization in the multilingual mind. In J. W. Schwieter (Ed.), The handbook of the neuroscience of multilingualism (pp. 297-313). Malden, MA/Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwellhttp
  • Archibald, J. & Libben, G. (2019). Morphological theory, second language acquisition and bilingualism, In J. Audring & F. Masini (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of morphological theory. Oxford University Press. doi
  • Davis, C., Libben, G., & Segalowitz, S. (2019). Compounding matters: Event-related potential evidence for early semantic access to compound words. Cognition, 184, 44-52. doi
  • Smolka, E., Libben, G., & Dressler, W.U. (2018). When morphological structure overrides meaning: Evidence from German prefix and particle verbs. Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience, 34(5), 599-614. doi
  • Libben, G., Goral, M., & Baayen, R.H. (2018). What does constituent priming mean in the investigation of compound processing? The Mental Lexicon, 13(3), 269-284. doi
  • Libben, G. (2017). The quantum metaphor and the organization of words in the mind. Cultural Cognitive Science, 1, 49-55. http pdf
  • Smolka, E., & Libben, G. (2017). Semantic transparency and compounding. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 32(4), 514-531doi
  • Miwa, K., Libben, G., & Yu, I. (2017). Visual trimorphemic compound recognition in a morphographic script. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 32(1), 1-20. doi
  • Libben, G., Goral, M., & Baayen, R.H. (2017). Dynamicity and compound processing in bilinguals. In M. Libben, M. Goral, & G. Libben (Eds.), Bilingualism: A framework for understanding the mental lexicon. John Benjamins. doi
  • Libben, M., Goral, M., & Libben, G. (2017). The dynamic lexicon: complex words in bilingual minds. In M. Libben, M. Goral, & G. Libben (Eds.), Bilingualism: A framework for understanding the mental lexicon (pp.1-8). John Benjamin. doi
  • Libben, G., Jarema, G., Derwing, B., Riccardii, A., & Perlak, D. (2016). Seeking the –ational in derivational morphology. Aphasiology, 30(11), 1304-1324. doi
  • Teddiman, L., & Libben, G. (2015). Segmented binaural presentation as a means as a to examine lexical substructure. The Mental Lexicon, 10(3), 435-457. doi
  • Archibald, J. A., & Libben, G. (submitted). Second language morphology: representations, interfaces, and processing. Oxford Handbook of Morphological Theory.
  • Jarema, G., Libben, G., & Tucker, B. V. (2015). The integration of phonological and phonetic processing: A matter of sound judgment. In G. Jarema, & G. Libben (Eds.), Phonological and phonetic aspects of lexical processing. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi
  • Libben, G. (2015). Word-formation in psycholinguistics and neuro-cognitive research: A psycholexical approach. In P.O. Müller, I. Ohnheiser, S. Olsen and F. Rainer (Eds.), Word-formation: An international handbook of the languages of Europe. Berlin/New York/Boston: DeGruyter Mouton. http
  • Libben, G., & Goral, M. (2015). How bilingualism shapes the mental lexicon. In J. Schwieter (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of bilingual processing (pp. 631-644)Cambridge, England:Cambridge University Press. doi
  • Libben, G. (2015). Brain and language. In W. O’Grady & J. Archibald (Eds.), Contemporary linguistic analysis (7th ed., pp. 473-493). Toronto, Canada: Copp Clark Pitman. http
  • Libben, G. (2015) Psycholinguistics: The study of language processing. In W. O’Grady & J. Archibald (Eds.),Contemporary linguistic analysis (7th ed., pp. 447-472). Toronto, Canada: Copp Clark Pitman. http
  • Korecky-Kroll, K., Dressler, W.U., Freiberger, E.M., Reinisch, E., Mörth, K., & Libben, G. (2014). Morphonotactic and phonotactic processing in German-speaking adults. Language Sciences, 46, 48-58. doi
  • Libben, G., Curtiss, K., & Weber, S. (2014). Psychocentricity and participant profiles: Implications for lexical processing among multilinguals. Frontiers of Psychology, 4. doi
  • Libben, G. (2014). The nature of compounds: A psychocentric perspective. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 31, 8-25. doi
  • Libben, G., & Weber, S. (2014). Semantic transparency, compounding, and the nature of independent variables. In F. Rainer, W. U. Dressler, F. Gardani, & H. C. Luschützky (Eds.), Morphology and meaning. Amsterdam: Benjamins. doi
  • Dressler, W.U., Libben, G., & Korecky-Kröll, K. (2014). Conflicting vs. convergent vs. interdependent motivations in morphology. In B. MacWhinney, A. Malchukov, & E. Moravcsik (Eds.), Competing motivations in grammar and usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi
  • Miwa, K., Libben, G., Dijkstra, T., & Baayen, R. H. (2014) The time-course of lexical activation in Japanese morphographic word recognition: Evidence for a character-driven processing model. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67(1), 79-113. doi
  • Miwa, K., Libben, G., & Baayen, R.H. (2013). Semantic radicals in Japanese two-character word recognition. Language and Cognitive Processes, 27, 142-158. doi
  • Libben, G., Weber, S., & Miwa, K. (2012). P3: A technique for the study of perception, production, and participant properties. The Mental Lexicon, 7(2), 237-248. doi
  • Libben, G., Westbury, C., & Jarema, G. (2012). Embracing complexity. In G. Libben, G. Jarema, & C. Westbury (Eds.), Methodological and analytic frontiers in lexical research (pp. 1-12). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi
  • Libben, G. (2012). Morphological assessment in bilingual aphasia: Compounding and the language nexus. In M. Gitterman, M. Goral, & L. K. Obler (Eds.), Aspects of multilingual aphasia (pp. 51-88). Multilingual Matters. http
  • Dressler, W.U., Stark, J.A., Pons, C., Nault, K., Jarema, G., & Libben, G. (2012). Interfix knowledge is fixed: Evidence from the composition of German compounds by persons with aphasia. Anzeiger of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, 146, 5-34.
  • Korecky-Kröll, K., Libben, G., Stempfer, N., Wiesinger, J., Reinisch, E., Bertl, J., & Dressler, W.U. (2012). Helping a crocodile to learn German plurals: Children’s online judgment of actual, potential and illegal plural forms. Morphology, 22, 35-65. doi
  • Tremblay, A., Derwing, B., Libben, G., & Westbury, C. (2011). Processing advantages of lexical bundles: Evidence from self-paced reading and sentence recall tasks. Language Learning, 61(2), 569-613. doi
  • Libben, G. (2010). Compounds, semantic transparency, and morphological transcendence. In S. Olson (Ed.), New impulses in word-formation (Linguistische Berichte Sonderheft 17). Buske, Hamburg, 212-232. http
  • Libben, G., Boniecki, M., Martha, M., Mittermann, K., Korecky-Kröll, K., & Dressler, W.U. (2010). Interfixation in German compounds: What factors govern acceptability judgements? Italian Journal of Linguistics, 21, 149-180. http
  • Libben, G. (2009). Chronometric methods in psycholinguistics. In D. Eddington (Ed.), Quantitative and experimental linguistics (pp. 197-233). Munich: LinCom. http
  • Libben, G. (2008). Words, mind and brain. In P. V. Sterkenburg (Ed.), Unity and diversity of languages (pp. 111–121). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi
  • Libben, G. (2008). How do we parse compound words? In N. Srinivasan, A. K. Gupta, & J. Pandey (Eds.), Advances in cognitive science (pp. 154-172). New Delhi: Sage Publications. doi
  • Libben, G. (2008). Disorders of lexis. In B. Stemmer, & H. A. Whitaker (Eds.), Handbook of the neuropsychology of language (pp.147-154). New York: Elsevier. doi
  • Goral, M., Libben, G., Obler, L. K., & Ohayon, K. (2008). Lexical attrition in younger and older bilingual adults. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 22, 509-522.
  • Dressler, W. D., Libben, G., Jarema, G., Stark, J., & Pons, C. (2007). Produttività nel processamento di composti: esempi tedeschi con e senza interfissi. In M. Grossmann, & A. M. Thornton (Eds.), Atti del XXXVII congresso internazionale della Società di Linguistica Italiana (L’Aquila) (pp. 153-162). Roma: Bulzoni.
  • Libben, G. (2007). Everything is psycholinguistics: Material and methodological considerations in the study of compound processing. Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 50, 267-283. http
  • Libben, G. (2007). Reading complex morphological structures. In S. Andrews (Ed.), From inkmarks to ideas: Current issues in lexical processing (pp.192-215). Hove: Psychology Press. doi
  • Jarema, G., & Libben, G. (2006). Disorders of morphology. Encyclopedia Of Language and Linguistics. Elsevier.
  • Libben, G. (2006). How Language learners comprehend and produce language in real time: Comments on Clahsen and Felser. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27, 72-74. doi
  • Libben, G. (2006). Getting at psychological reality: On- and off-line tasks in the investigation of hierarchical morphological structure. In G. Wiebe, G. Libben, T. Priestly, R. Smyth, & S. Wang (Eds.), Phonology, morphology, and the empirical imperative: Papers in honour of Bruce Derwing (pp. 235-255). Taipei: Crane. http
  • Libben, G. (2006). Why study compounds? An overview of the issues. In G. Libben, & G. Jarema, (Eds.), The representation and processing of compound words (pp. 1-21). Oxford: Oxford University Press. http
  • de Almeida, R. G. & Libben, G. (2005). Changing morphological structures: The effect of sentence context on the interpretation of structurally ambiguous English trimorphemic words. Language and Cognitive Processes, 20, 373-394. doi
  • Schirmeier, M., Derwing, B. L., & Libben, G. (2004). Lexicality, morphological structure and semantic transparency in the processing of German ver-verbs. Brain and Language, 90, 74-87. doi
  • Libben, G., Buchanan, L., & Colangelo, A. (2004). Morphology, semantics, and the mental lexicon: The failure of deactivation hypothesis. Logos and Language, 4(1), 45-53.
  • Libben, G., & Jarema, G. (2004). Conceptions and questions concerning morphological processing. Brain and Language, 90, 1-8doi
  • Libben, G., & Libben, M. (2004). Ecological validity in experimental psycholinguistic research. Thirtieth LACUS Forum (pp. 47-57). Columbia, South Carolina: Hornbeam Press.
  • Krott, A, Libben, G., Jarema, G., Dressler, W., Schreuder, R., & Baayen, H. (2004). Probability in the grammar of German and Dutch: Interfixation in triconstituent compounds. Language and Speech, 47, 83-106. doi
  • Libben, G. (2004). Brain and language. In W. O’Grady, & J. Archibald (Eds.), Contemporary linguistic analysis (5th ed., pp. 473-493). Toronto, Canada: Copp Clark Pitman.
  • Libben, G. (2004). Psycholinguistics: The study of language processing. In W. O’Grady, & J. Archibald (Eds.), Contemporary linguistic analysis (5th ed., pp. 447-472). Toronto, Canada: Copp Clark Pitman.
  • Libben, G., Gibson, M., Yoon, Y-B., & Sandra, D. (2003). Compound fracture: The role of semantic transparency and morphological headedness. Brain and Language, 84, 26-43doi
  • Libben, G. (2003). Morphological parsing and morphological structure. In E. M. H. Assink, & D. Sandra (Eds.), Reading complex words (pp. 221-239). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. http
  • Buchanan, L., McEwen, S., Westbury, C. & Libben, G. (2003). Semantics and semantic errors: Implicit access to semantic information from words and nonwords in deep dyslexia. Brain and Language, 84, 65-83doi
  • Jarema, G., Libben, G., & Dressler, W. (2003). The role of typological variation in the processing of interfixed compounds. In K. Dziubalska-Kolaczyk & J. Weckwerth (Eds.), Future challenges for natural linguistics. Licom Europa. http
  • Libben, G., & Jarema, G. (2002). Mental lexicon research in the new millennium. Brain and Language, 81, 1-10. doi
  • Rice, S., Libben, G., & Derwing, B. L. (2002). Morphological representation in an endangered, polysynthetic language. Brain and Language, 81, 473-486. doi
  • de Almeida, R. G., & Libben, G. (2002). Compound pre-access decomposition: Effects of constituent disruption. Folia Linguistica, 36, 97-115. doi
  • Libben, G., Jarema, G., Dressler, W. U., Stark, J., & Pos, C. (2002). Triangulating the effects of interfixation in the processing of German compounds. Folia Linguistica, 36, 24-43. pdf doi
  • Jarema, G., Libben, G., Dressler, W. U., & Kehayia, E. (2002). The role of typological variation in the processing of interfixed compounds: Evidence from German, Polish and Greek. Brain and Language, 81, 736-747. doi
  • Dressler, W. U., Libben, G., Stark, J., Pons, C., & Jarema, G. (2001). The processing of interfixed German compounds. In W. U. Dressler, (Ed.), Yearbook of morphology, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic. http
  • Libben, G., & de Almeida, R. G. (2001). Is there a morphological parser? In W. U. Dressler, & S. Bendjaballah (Eds.), Morphology 2000 (pp. 213-225). John Benjamins. doi
  • McEwen, S., Westbury, C., Buchanan, L., & Libben, G. (2001). Semantic information is used by a deep dyslexic to parse compounds. Brain and Cognition, 46, 201–205. doi
  • Libben, G. (2000). Prelexical morphological parsing. In C. Schaner-Wolles, J. Rennison & F. Neubarth (Eds.), Naturally! Linguistic studies in honour of Wolfgang Ulrich Dressler (pp. 265-271). Rosenberg & Sellier. doi
  • Buchanan, L., McEwen, S., Westbury, C., & Libben, G. (2000). Semantic processing of nonwords by a deep dyslexic. Brain and Language.
  • Dressler, W. U., Libben, G., Stark, J., Pons, C., & Jarema, G. (2000). The processing of interfixed German compounds. In J. Van Marle, & G. Booj (Eds.), Yearbook of Morphology (pp. 185-220). Amsterdam: Foris. http
  • Gibson, M., Hufeisen, B., & Libben, G. (2000). Learners of German as an L3 and their production of German prepositional verbs. In J. Cenoz, B. Hufeisen, & U. Jessner (Eds.), Cross-linguistic influence in 3rd language acquisition: Psycholinguistic perspectives (pp. 219-234). Multilingual Matters. http
  • Libben, G. (2000). Representation and processing in the second language lexicon: The homogeneity hypothesis. In J.A. Archibald (Ed.), Second language grammars (pp. 228-248). Blackwell Press.
  • Libben, G., Derwing, B. L. & de Almeida, R.G. (1999). Ambiguous novel compounds and models of morphological parsing. Brain and Language, 68, 378-386. doi
  • Jarema, G., Busson, C., Nikolova, R., Tsapkini, K., & Libben, G. (1999). Processing compounds: A cross-linguistic study. Brain and Language, 68, 362-369. doi
  • Libben, G. (1998). Semantic transparency in the processing of compounds: Consequences for representation, processing, and impairment. Brain and Language, 61, 30-44. doi
  • Libben, G., & Derwing, B. L. (1996). Individual differences in lexical processing. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Linguistics Association, 185-196.
  • Libben, G., & Lindner, O. (1996). Second culture acquisition and second language acquisition: Faux amis? Zeitschrift fur Interkulturellen Sprachunterricht. (e-journal).
  • Tesak, J., & Libben, G. (1994). On economy in written language production: Telegrams, short letters, and notes. Grazer Linguistische Studien, 42, 115-121.
  • Libben, G. (1994). Computing hierarchical morphological structure: A case study. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 8(1), 49-55.
  • Libben, G. (1994). How is morphological decomposition achieved?  Language and Cognitive Processes, 9(3), 369-391.
  • Libben, G., & Sveinson, L. (1994). Variation in unconscious lexical processing: Education and experience make a difference. Proceedings of the Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 945-950. Hillsdale N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Rowsell, L. V., & Libben, G. (1994). The sound of one hand clapping: The role of communication and contextualization in completely autonomous language learning. Canadian Modern Language Journal, 50(4), 668-687.
  • Libben, G. (1994). Hierarchical structure and selectional restrictions in morphological processing. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Canadian Linguistic Association, 325-332.
  • Libben, G. (1993). Are morphological structures computed during word recognition? Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 22(5), 535-544.
  • Libben, G. (1993). A case of obligatory access to morphological constituents. The Nordic Journal of Linguistic, 16, 111-121.
  • Libben, G., & Lindner, O. (1993). Becoming bilingual and bicultural: Some theoretical considerations. Alberta Modern Language Journal, 30(1), 5-11.
  • Libben, G. (1992). Front-end serial processing of compound and complex words: the APPLE model. Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 945-950. Hillsdale N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Libben, G., & Rossman-Benjamin, T. (1992). TESL methodology in Canada: A survey of instructor attitudes and correlates. TESL Canada Journal, 9(2), 9-29.
  • Libben, G. (1990). Morphological representations and morphological deficits in aphasia. In J-L Nespoulous & P. Villiard (Eds.), Morphology, phonology and aphasia (pp. 20-31). New York: Springer.
  • Libben, G. (1987). Computational demand and resources in aphasia. Proceedings of the Ninth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 774-779. Hillsdale N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Libben, G. (1984). Auditory verbal discrimination in aphasia. The tenth LACUS forum 1983, 474-482. Columbia, SC: Hornbeam Press.
  • Lightbown, P. M., & Libben, G. (1984). The recognition and use of cognates by L2 learners. In R. W. Anderson (Ed.), Second Languages (pp. 393-417). Rowley, Mass: Newbury House.

Dr. Libben has taught courses in areas associated with research methods, psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics. Before coming to Brock, he taught at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. He regularly offers courses at the University of Vienna.