Dr Petar Milin

Dr Petar Milin

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

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

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.


  • 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


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.


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.

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 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 University of Birmingham:

  1. Christian Adam: Distributing information and the processing of grammatical aspect (computational, experimental)
  2. Maciej Borowski: Elucidating native speaker knowledge of case and aspect in Polish (cognitive linguistics, experimental)
  3. Shiyu He: Transfer of reading strategies from L1 to L2 (cognitive linguistics, experimental)


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


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.

Other activities

  • Consulting Editor for Methodology of the journal Cognitive Linguistics
  • Member of the Editorial Board of the journal Lingue e Linguaggio
  • 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 (e.g., 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)


Journal articles

Filipović Đurđević, D. & Milin, P. Information and Learning in Processing of Adjective Inflection. Cortex, online first [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2018.07.020].

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, 10(1), 209-224.

Sering, K., Milin, P., & Baayen, R. H. (2018). Language comprehension as a multi-label classification problem. Statistica Neerlandica, 72(3), 339-353.

Milin, P., Divjak, D., & Baayen, R. H. (2017). A learning perspective on individual differences in skilled reading: Exploring and exploiting orthographic and semantic discrimination cues. Accepted in Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(11), 1730-1751.

Milin, P., Feldman, L. B., Ramscar, M., Hendrix, P., & Baayen, R. H. (2017). Discrimination in lexical decision. Plos ONE, Feb 24. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171935

Jakovljev, I., & Milin, P. (2017). The relationship between thematic, lexical, and syntactic features of written texts and personality traits. Psihologija, 50, 67-84.

Milin, P., Divjak, D., Dimitrijević, S., & Baayen, R. H. (2016). Towards cognitively plausible data science in language research. Cognitive Linguistics, 27(4), 507-526.

Geertzen, J., Blevins, J.P., & Milin, P. (2016). The informativeness of linguistic unit boundaries. Italian Journal of Linguistics, 28(1), 25-48.

Baayen, R. H., Milin, P., & Ramscar, M. (2016). Frequency in lexical processing. Aphasiology, 30(11), 1174-1220.

Radanović, J., Westbury, C., & Milin, P. (2016). Quantifying semantic animacy: How much are words alive?. Applied Psycholinguistics, 37(6), 1477-1499.

Feldman, L. B., Milin, P., Cho, K., Moscoso del Prado Martín, F., & O’Connor, P. A. (2015). Must analysis of meaning follow analysis of form? A time course analysis. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9:111.

Ramscar, M., Hendrix, P., Shaoul, C., Milin, P., & Baayen, R. H. (2014). The Myth of Cognitive Decline: Non-Linear Dynamics of Lifelong Learning. Topics in Cognitive Science, 6, 5-42.

Milin, P. & Zdravković, S. (2013). Bi-Dimensional Semantic Scales: The Embodied Maps of Meanings. Universitas Psychologica, 12, 1543-1558.

Filipović Đurđević, D., Milin, P., & Feldman, L. B. (2013). Bi-alphabetism: A window on phonological processing. Psihologija, 46, 421-438.


Feldman, L. & Milin, P. (2018). Psycholinguistic studies of word morphology and their implications for models of the mental lexicon and lexical processing. In R. Berthiaume, D. Daigle and A. Desrochers (Eds.) Morphological Processing and Literacy Development: Current Issues and Research. New York, NY: Routledge.

Milin, P., Smolka, E., & Feldman, L. B. (2017). Models of Lexical Access and Morphological Processing. In H. Cairns and E. Fernandez (Eds.) The Handbook of Psycholinguistics. London: Routledge.

Blevins, J. P., Milin, P., & Ramscar, M. (2017). The Zipfian Paradigm Cell Filling Problem. In F. Kiefer, J. P. Blevins, & H. Bartos (Eds.) Morphological Paradigms and Functions. Leiden: Brill.

Dye, M., Milin, P., Futrell, R., & Ramscar, M. (2017). A functional theory of gender paradigms. In F. Kiefer, J. P. Blevins, & H. Bartos (Eds.) Morphological Paradigms and Functions. Leiden: Brill.

Milin, P. & Kinsey, M. (2017). Data literate journalists: The next generation. In J. Mair, R. L. Keeble, M. Lucero, & M. Moore (eds.) Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future. Suffolk: Abramis Academic Publishing.

Other journal publications (short reports and commentaries)

Feldman, L. B. & Milin, P. (2017). If priming is graded rather than all-or-none, can reactivating abstract structures be the underlying mechanism? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40, e287.

Vaci, N., Radanović, J., Marmolejo-Ramos, F., & Milin, P. (2014). Comprehending negated action(s): Embodiment perspective. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 9, 558-565.

View all publications in research portal