University of Calgary

Penny Pexman

  • Professor
  • +1 (403) 220-6352
  • +1 (403) 220-5220

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Research Support

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.


For a complete list of my journal publications please click here

To visit my laboratory please click here

In broad terms I am interested in how we derive meaning from language. I have approached this question at the level of individual words, examining the cognitive processes involved in visual word recognition; that is, how do we access the meanings of words? I utilize behavioral methods and also fMRI and EEG to study this question, examining the behavioral and neural consequences of variability in a number of dimensions of word meaning, including embodied dimensions. I have examined these processes in children during vocabulary development, in healthy adults, in individuals with extraordinary lexical expertise, and in clinical populations with impaired semantic processing skills. 

I have also investigated how we derive meaning from more complex language; I am interested in social and cognitive aspects of non-literal language comprehension and production. In particular, I am interested in how we appreciate the meaning intended by verbal irony (e.g., sarcastic remarks, like saying "that was smooth" after stumbling). I am especially interested in how children develop the ability to detect and produce verbal irony. To study children's appreciation of sarcastic-ironic language I have developed tasks that allow us to assess not only the end product of children's interpretation, but also children's processing as they derive that interpretation.

Curriculum Vitae


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