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

Mills, C., Porter, A. R., Andrews-Hanna, J. R., Christoff, K., & Colby, A. (n.d.). How task-unrelated and freely moving thought relate to affect: Evidence for dissociable patterns in everyday life.. Emotion. doi:10.1037/emo0000849

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), 20190692. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0692

Mills, C., Gregg, J., Bixler, R., & D’Mello, S. K. (n.d.). Eye-Mind reader: an intelligent reading interface that promotes long-term comprehension by detecting and responding to mind wandering. Human–Computer Interaction, 1-27. doi:10.1080/07370024.2020.1716762

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mills, C., & Christoff, K. (2018). Constructed Futures. In P. Tortell, M. Turin, & M. Young (Eds.), Memory. UBC Press.

Martin, L., Mills, C., D Mello, S. K., & Risko, E. F. (2018). Re-watching lectures as a study strategy and its effect on mind wandering.. Experimental psychology.

Christoff, K., Mills, C., Andrews-Hanna, J. R., Irving, Z. C., Thompson, E., Fox, K. C. R., & Kam, J. W. Y. (2018). Mind-wandering as a scientific concept: cutting through the definitional haze. Trends in cognitive sciences, 22, 957-959.

Most Cited Publications