Dr Petar Milin

Dr Petar Milin

Department of Modern Languages
Senior Lecturer in the Psychology of Language and Language Learning

Contact details

Address
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

My primary research interests are concentrated in areas concerned with understanding the crucial role of learning in human language, its behaviour and use. Previously, my work focused on investigating word or lexical processing, but currently, it extends to the study of natural communication. Methodologically, my work combines experimentation and computational modelling with advanced statistical data analysis. I work with the Out Of Our Minds team towards an in-depth understanding of language knowledge and natural ways of learning a language.

I also have secondary research interests which all relate to understanding probabilistic phenomena in language. These include problems that arise in characterising text quantification, stylometry and authorship, vocabulary richness and similar issues.

Qualifications

  • BA (University of Novi Sad, Serbia), 1994
  • MA (University of Novi Sad, Serbia), 2001
  • PhD (University of Belgrade, Serbia), 2004
  • Training in Transactional Analysis, 1st level (60h) ITAA/ITAI certified, 1993
  • Training in Transactional Analysis, 2nd level (120h theory; 30h practice) ITAA/ITAI certified, 1995

Biography

I hold a BA and MA in Psychology from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia. I started working as a Teaching Assistant in Statistics and Research Methodology at the Department of Psychology in Novi Sad in the late 90s. In 2001, I began a PhD degree at the University of Belgrade in the domain of experimental and computational psychology; my research focused on inflections in morphologically rich languages.

Following the completion of my PhD thesis in 2004, I took up an Assistant Professorship in Novi Sad, where I worked until 2016. In 2009, I was promoted to Associate Professor. Over the years I have convened modules on Psycholinguistics, Learning, Statistics, and Research Methodology. Between 2013 and 2016, I spent two years as Senior Researcher (Leitender Wissenschaftler) in the Quantitative Linguistics Group of Professor R. Harald Baayen, at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, Germany. In 2016 I took up a position as a Senior Lecturer in Data Science at the University of Sheffield. In January 2019 started my new post as a Senior Lecturer in the Psychology of Language and Language Learning at the University of Birmingham.

I’ve been very active in curriculum development. In 2006 I co-initiated the development of new UG curricula at the University of Novi Sad, aiming to meet European standards in HE (€180,000.00 TEMPUS grant from the EU). In 2011, I helped design and develop an Interdisciplinary Master’s program in Applied Statistics (€703,000.00 TEMPUS grant from the EU). I was also instrumental in founding Novi Sad's Laboratory for Experimental Psychology, which I headed up 2009-2015.
 

Fun fact: I spent a year working as Creative Director of TARCUS, a company that produced music and radio-commercials.
 

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome applications from PhD students in any of my areas of interest, especially the following:

the role of learning in language behaviour and language description (e.g., comprehension and production, foreign language learning, reading and others)

understanding/describing language as a complex dynamic system, its relationships with other cognitive systems (e.g., perception, memory, problem solving)

the dyads of language-communication and cognition-conceptualisation as pillars of human (social) adaptation

I currently co-supervise the following students

At the University of Birmingham:

Mr Maciej Borowski - Elucidating native speaker knowledge of case and aspect in Polish

Ms Shiyu He - Learning to optimize reading: Transferring eye movements across languages

Ms Marta Gasiorowska - Cognitive linguistics and the second language classroom

Ms Daisy Collins - Evasive English articles: Adult second language learners' perspective

Mr Paul Stott - The role of language in concept formation [to be confirmed]

Elsewhere:

Mr Filip Nenadić (the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada). This is a part of a collaboration with Dr Benjamin V. Tucker and The Alberta Phonetics Laboratory.

Research

My primary research interests are concentrated in areas concerned with understanding the crucial role of learning in human language, its behaviour and use. Previously, my work focused on investigating word or lexical processing, but currently, it extends to the study of natural communication. Methodologically, my work combines experimentation and computational modelling with advanced statistical data analysis. I work with the Out Of Our Minds team towards an in-depth understanding of language knowledge and natural ways of learning a language.

I also have secondary research interests which all relate to understanding probabilistic phenomena in language. These include problems that arise in characterising text quantification, stylometry and authorship, vocabulary richness and similar issues.
 
My first research breakthrough was in proposing a formal measure of the synergy between information from different levels of language abstraction (such as representations of inflectional paradigms versus classes, as observed in Latin nominal declensions for example), and how this synergy is put to use in the cognitive system when words and phrases are processed. The proposed measure is grounded in information theory and formalizes the discrepancy between specific (input) exemplars and generalized abstractions (apparently cognitively plausible). The results of this study were initially published in 2009, in the Journal of Memory and Language and invited a comprehensive overview chapter of the information-theoretic approach to language processing for the edited volume Analogy in Grammar, published by Oxford University Press.

With these robust results as a foundation, I began to seek an explanatory, functional account of language processing in general, and of reading in particular. The resulting Naïve Discrimination Learning (NDL) model builds on foundational work in the psychology of animal and human Learning. Together with my collaborators, I have successfully modelled a wide range of lexical processing phenomena, and this work was published in 2011 in the Psychological Review.

Currently, I am fully occupied with the Out Of Our Minds research project, which aims to lead a step-change in understanding language and optimize language learning. Out Of Our Minds is supported by a Research Leadership Award from the Leverhulme Trust. You can read more about our work on our project website. An intro to our ideas is given in our research paper on the role of orthographic and semantic information in skilled reading, published in 2017 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

[see my major publications from 2009]
 

Other

  • Research Ambassador for Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany [read more]

  • Consulting Editor for Methodology of the journal Cognitive Linguistics

  • Member of the Editorial Board of the journal Lingue e Linguaggio

  • Member of the Editorial Board of the journal Entropy

  • Co-Editor of the Monograph Series in Morphological Investigations (with J. P. Blevins and M. Ramscar) by Language Science Press

  • Ad Hoc Reviewing for a range of scientific journals; among others, Acta Linguistica; Behavioral Research Methods; Cognition; Cognitive Neuropsychology; Cognitive Science; International Journal of Bilingualism; International Journal of Psychological Research; Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory & Cognition; Journal of Experimental Psychology: General; Journal of Slavic Linguistic; Language Learning; Psychonomic Bulletin & Review; Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
     

Teaching

Over the years I have taught Statistics and Research Methods at all levels and for quite a diverse student body, mainly in Social Sciences and Humanities. I have also developed and taught specialist modules on the Psychology of Language (Psycholinguistics) and Learning Theory.
 

Publications

Highlight publications

Divjak, D & Milin, P 2020, 'Exploring and exploiting uncertainty: Statistical learning ability affects how we learn to process language along multiple dimensions of experience', Cognitive Science, vol. 44, no. 5, e12835. https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12835

Milin, P, Divjak, D & Baayen, RH 2017, 'A learning perspective on individual differences in skilled reading: exploring and exploiting orthographic and semantic discrimination cues', Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, vol. 43, no. 11, pp. 1730-1751. https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000410

Filipović Đurđević, D & Milin, P 2019, 'Information and learning in processing adjective inflection', Cortex, vol. 116, pp. 209-227. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2018.07.020

Milin, P & Blevins, J 2020, Paradigms in Morphology. in Oxford Reseach Encyclopedia, Linguistics. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199384655.013.551

Milin, P, Feldman, LB, Ramscar, M, Hendrix, P & Baayen, RH 2017, 'Discrimination in lexical decision', PLoS ONE, vol. 12, no. 2. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171935

Recent publications

Book

Čolović, P & Milin, P 2018, Korelacioni istraživački nacrti. Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad.

Article

Medimorec, S, Milin, P & Divjak, D 2020, 'Frogs, apples, and sand: effects of cognitive and demographic factors on letter fluency performance', Current Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-020-00713-4

Divjak, D, Milin, P & Medimorec, S 2020, 'Construal in language: a visual-world approach to the effects of linguistic alternations on event perception and conception', Cognitive Linguistics, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 37–72. https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2018-0103

Medimorec, S, Milin, P & Divjak, D 2019, 'Working memory affects anticipatory behavior during implicit pattern learning', Psychological Research. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-019-01251-w

Sering, K, Milin, P & Baayen, RH 2018, 'Language comprehension as a multi-label classification problem', Statistica Neerlandica, pp. 339-353. https://doi.org/10.1111/stan.12134

Dye, M, Milin, P, Futrell, R & Ramscar, M 2018, 'Alternative solutions to a language design problem: the role of adjectives and gender marking in efficient communication', Topics in Cognitive Science, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 209-224. https://doi.org/10.1111/tops.12316

Jakovljev, I & Milin, P 2017, 'The relationship between thematic, lexical, and syntactic features of written texts and personality traits', Psihologija, vol. 50, no. 1, 50, pp. 67-84. https://doi.org/10.2298/PSI161012006J

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Pirrelli, V, Marzi, C, Ferro, M, Cardillo, FA, Baayen, RH & Milin, P 2020, Psycho-computational modelling of the mental lexicon. in V Pirrelli, I Plag & W Dressler (eds), Word Knowledge and Word Usage: A Cross-Disciplinary Guide to the Mental Lexicon. De Gruyter, Berlin, pp. 23-82. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110440577

Milin, P, Smolka, E & Feldman, LB 2018, Models of lexical access and morphological processing. in The Handbook of Psycholinguistics. Wiley-Blackwell.

Feldman, LB & Milin, P 2018, Psycholinguistic studies of word morphology and their implications for models of the mental lexicon and lexical processing. in Morphological Processing and Literacy Development. Routledge.

Dye, M, Milin, P, Futrell, R & Ramscar, M 2017, A functional theory of gender paradigms. in F Kiefer, J Blevins & H Bartos (eds), Perspectives on Morphological Organization: Data and Analyses. Brill, Leiden, pp. 121-140. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004342934

Milin, P & Kinsey, M 2017, Data literate journalists: The next generation. in J Mair, RL Keeble, M Lucero & M Moore (eds), Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future. Abramis Academic Publishing, pp. 229-236.

Blevins, J, Milin, P & Ramscar, M 2017, The Zipfian Paradigm Cell Filling Problem. in F Kiefer, J Blevins & H Bartos (eds), Perspectives on Morphological Organization: Data and Analyses. Brill, Leiden, pp. 141-158. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004342934

Comment/debate

Feldman, LB & Milin, P 2017, 'If priming is graded rather than all-or-none, can reactivating abstract structures be the underlying mechanism?', Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 40, e287. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X17000358

Other contribution

Milin, P, Tayyar Madabushi, H, Croucher, M & Divjak, D 2020, Keeping it simple: Implementation and performance of the proto-principle of adaptation and learning in the language sciences.. <https://arxiv.org/pdf/2003.03813.pdf>

View all publications in research portal