Caitlin Mills

Office: Psychology, McConnell Hall, Durham, NH 03824

Caitlin Mills joined UNH in 2018 as an assistant professor of psychology. She earned a B.A. in psychology from Christian Brothers University (2010), followed by a masters (2014) and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame (2016). Dr. Mills then completed a two-year postdoc in the Psychology Department at the University of British Columbia. Her research focuses mainly focuses on constructs related to mind wandering and engagement – their neural correlates, relationship to affect, and impact on learning. Dr. Mills’s interdisciplinary research program incorporates theoretical and methodological approaches from cognitive psychology, computer science, cognitive neuroscience and education. She is currently pursuing three main lines of research: 1) using educationally relevant paradigms to characterize when mind wandering occurs and how it influences learning; 2) building machine learning detectors that can predict and respond when someone goes off-task in real-time; and 3) conducting studies to uncover the dynamic brain network interactions that give rise to spontaneous thought. Other ongoing research interests include how emotions and other affective states impact comprehension in educational contexts, such as complex problem solving and reading.

My research interests are at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and education. I am particularly interested in mind wandering: its neural correlates, relationship to affect, and impact on learning.Other interests include investigating affective states and task-unrelated thought in educational contexts, such as during complex learning and reading.


  • Ph.D., Psychology, University of Notre Dame
  • M.A., Psychology, University of Notre Dame
  • B.S., Psychology, Christian Brothers University

Research Interests

  • Cognitive psychology
  • Computer Science
  • Educational Psychology
  • Neuroscience

Courses Taught

  • NSB 799H: Honors Senior Thesis
  • PSYC 402: Statistics in Psychology
  • PSYC 595: AppsOfPsyc/Academic Experience
  • PSYC 741W: Spc Top/Science of Daydreaming
  • PSYC 797: Senior Honors Tutorial
  • PSYC 914: Adv Sem/Cognition

Selected Publications

Raffaelli, Q., Mills, C., de Stefano, N. -A., Mehl, M. R., Chambers, K., Fitzgerald, S. A., . . . Andrews-Hanna, J. R. (2021). The think aloud paradigm reveals differences in the content, dynamics and conceptual scope of resting state thought in trait brooding.. Sci Rep, 11(1), 19362. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-98138-x

Mills, C., Porter, A. R., Andrews-Hanna, J. R., Christoff, K., & Colby, A. (2021). How Task-Unrelated and Freely Moving Thought Relate to Affect: Evidence for Dissociable Patterns in Everyday Life. EMOTION, 21(5), 1029-1040. doi:10.1037/emo0000849

Mills, C., Gregg, J., Bixler, R., & D'Mello, S. K. (2021). Eye-Mind reader: an intelligent reading interface that promotes long-term comprehension by detecting and responding to mind wandering. HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTION, 36(4), 306-332. doi:10.1080/07370024.2020.1716762

Mills, C., Zamani, A., White, R., & Christoff, K. (2021). Out of the blue: understanding abrupt and wayward transitions in thought using probability and predictive processing. PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 376(1817). doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0692

Zedelius, C. M., Mills, C., & Schooler, J. W. (2019). Beyond subjective judgments: Predicting evaluations of creative writing from computational linguistic features. Behavior research methods, 1-16.

Wammes, J. D., Ralph, B. C. W., Mills, C., Bosch, N., Duncan, T. L., & Smilek, D. (2019). Disengagement during lectures: Media multitasking and mind wandering in university classrooms. Computers & Education.

Varao-Sousa, T. L., Mills, C., & Kingstone, A. (2019). Where You Are, Not What You See: The Impact of Learning Environment on Mind Wandering and Material Retention. In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge (pp. 421-425). ACM.

Mills, C., Wu, J., & D Mello, S. (2019). Being sad is not always bad: The influence of affect on expository text comprehension. Discourse Processes, 99-116.

Allen, L. K., Mills, C., Perret, C., & McNamara, D. S. (2019). Are You Talking to Me? Multi-Dimensional Language Analysis of Explanations during Reading. In PROCEEDINGS OF THE 9TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON LEARNING ANALYTICS & KNOWLEDGE (LAK'19) (pp. 116-120). doi:10.1145/3303772.3303835

Smith, G. K., Mills, C., Paxton, A., & Christoff, K. (2018). Mind-wandering rates fluctuate across the day: evidence from an experience-sampling study. Cognitive research: principles and implications, 3, 54.

Most Cited Publications