music, language and cognitive science



Department of English

Faculty of Philosophy

University of Niš, Serbia

Researcher, head

Center for Cognitive Sciences

University of Niš, Serbia

Nov 2020/ Apr 2022

Humboldt experienced research fellow 

Department of Musicology and Media Studies,

Humboldt University,

Berlin, Germany

2012/2013 (fall semester) 

Visiting researcher

Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)

Albert-Ludgwigs University

Freiburg, Germany


Fulbright visiting scholar

Department of Cognitive Science

Case Western Reserve University

View my papers on Academia.

Learn about Niš, the city of Constantine the Great.

New Book:

Multilevel Grounding: A Theory of Musical Meaning (2022). London & New York: Routledge. 

Current and recent projects:

SCHEMAS, Structuring Concept Generation with the Help of Metaphor, Analogy and Schematicity, "Ideas" program of Serbian Science Fund (2022-2025)

Multilevel Grounded Semantics: Language, Music, Visual Cognition (2024-2025) Branch in Niš of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts 

Humboldt Foundation's Return Fellowship (2022-2023)


Ph.D., Linguistics, 2007, University of Niš, Serbia

"Optimality and Metaphor Theory in Music and Language Cognition"

MA, Linguistics, 2003, University of Niš, Serbia

"A Comparative Analysis of Music and Language Perception"

BA, English, 1999, University of Niš, Serbia

Learn more about me

An article about my research in Case Western Reserve's The Daily



I will be a keynote speaker at the conference "Varieties of Representations" organized by the Bulgarian Society for Analytic Philosophy together with the Philosophy Department at Sofia University and the Institute for Philosophy and Sociology at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (15-17 Sep 2024).  

I gave a talk at the 12th conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM12), University of York, UK (4 July 2024). 

Within the "SCHEMAS" project, my team and I are organizing a conference on schematicity underlying meaning generation in language, music, and visual cognition. 

Antović, M., Tošić, A. (commissioned, submitted). When words and melodies clash: A multilevel-grounding approach to conflicting language and music in TV commercials. To appear in: Signs of Conflict: Multimodal Dimensions, Eds. Chen, L., Lu, W. (Amsterdam: John Benjamins).

Antović, M., Küssner, M., Kempf, A., Omigie, D., Hashim, S., Schiavio, A. (2024). “A huge man is bursting out of a rock”. Bodies, motion, and creativity in verbal reports of musical connotation. Journal of New Music Research. 52(1): 73-86. 


Antović, M., Jovanović, V. & Figar, V. (2023). Dynamic schematic complexes: Image schema interaction in music and language cognition reveals a potential for the detection of affective meaning. Pragmatics and Cognition, 30(2): 258-295. 

I will be a keynote speaker at the conference on the meaning of music, University of Arts, Gdansk, Poland, October 2024. 

I presented a poster on my theory of multilevel-grounded musical semantics at the workshop "Musical Minds: Exploring Cognitive Links between Language and Music", University of Konstanz, Germany, July 2023. 


I was a keynote speaker at the conference on musical verbalization at the Faculty of Education in Bressanone at the Free University of Bolzano, 6-7 October 2022.  

My book on musical meaning is now available for purchase from Routledge.

Schiavio, A., Moran, N., Antović, M. & van der Schyff, D. (2022). Grounding creativity in music perception? A multidisciplinary conceptual analysis. Music and Science. 

Antović, M. (2022). Form, meaning and intentionality: The case of metaphor in music. In: Wuppuluri, S. & Grayling, A.C. (Eds.) Metaphors and Analogies in Sciences and Humanities (pp. 553-577), Synthese Library 453: Springer.  

I presented a paper at the 4th Conference of the Association for Cognitive Semiotics (Aachen, 16 June 2022). 

I have been awarded a return fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to form a research group at the University of Niš that will continue developing multilevel grounding theory beyond music cognition alone. 


A team of nine colleagues and myself have been awarded a three-year research project by the Serbian Ministry of Science nicked SCHEMAS. It will explore the dynamic nature of schematic complexes underlying musical, linguistic, and visual thought. 

I will be one of three keynote speakers at the Conference of the European Association for Music in Schools, University of Arts, Belgrade, May 2022. 

On Nov 27 I gave a talk at the Symposium on the Syntax and Semantics of Language and Music, University of Riga, Latvia. 

On May 6 I gave a lecture in the Collegium Musicologicum series at Humboldt University Berlin (please contact me for the passcode). 

Antović, M. (2021). Multilevel-grounded semantics across cognitive modalities: Music, vision, poetry. Language and Literature, 30(2): 147-173. 

Antović, M. (2021). Contrasting English and Serbian through the lenses of multilevel-grounded semantics. Nasleđe,. 48: 165-181. 


I have been awarded a Humboldt Research Fellowship for experienced researchers, to spend 18 months in the Department of Musicology and Media Studies at Humboldt University in Berlin. Hosted by Prof. Sebastian Klotz, my project is entitled "Multilevel grounding: From biology to culture in the construction of musical meaning."

On July 3 I gave a zoom talk on multilevel grounding in musical meaning construction at the University of Cologne. 

Antović, M., Mitić, J., & Benecasa, N. (2020). Conceptual rather than perceptual: Cross-modal binding of pitch sequencing is based on an abstract underlying structure. Psychology of Music, 48(1), 84-104. 


I have now signed a contract with Routledge / Taylor and Francis for a full book /monograph provisionally titled "Multilevel Grounding: A Theory of Musical Meaning". 

A video of the talk I presented in September at the Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology (CIM19) in Graz, Austria. In October I gave  an intensive course on linguistics in cognitive science to students of the English Department, University of Brno, the Czech Republic.  

I have completed a review paper entitled The Role of Movement in Musical Signification: From cognitive to conceptual semantics of music, which has now appeared in an edited volume comprising papers from the conference Musica Movet, University of Belgrade. 

In April, I gave a presentation at the Music and Sciences Symposium at Istanbul Technical University, Turkey. My co-authored paper with Naomi Benecasa dealt with the conceptualization of musical accidentals (sharp/flat, lower/higher, thicker/thinner...) across languages. We are hoping to initiate collaboration with colleagues from Turkey and beyond. 


In November, I paid a visit to the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Brno, the Czech Republic, where I gave three talks on language, music, and meaning generation in cognitive science. After this, Prof. Todd Oakley of CWRU visited the Center for Cognitive Sciences at Niš and gave two talks. Finally, Prof. Oakley and I traveled to Zagreb, Croatia, to give talks at Zagreb Forum for Cognitive Sciences

Antović, M. (2018). Persuasion in musical multimedia: A Conceptual Blending Theory Approach. In: Pelclova, J. & W. Lu (Eds.) Persuasion in Public Discourse: Cognitive and Functional Perspectives (pp. 303-337). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.  

Antović, M. (2018). Waging War against Oneself: A Metaphor at the Heart of Christian Ascetic Practice, in P. Chilton and M. Kopytowska (Eds.), Religion, Language and the Human Mind, (pp. 386-406). New York: Oxford University Press.

In September, I participated in the panel on blending, meaning and imagination of the 2018 Conference of Social Anthropologists, Oxford University, by invitation. My talk dealt with extensions of the theory of multilevel-grounded semiotics to phenomena such as fictive interaction, embodied synchronization, and phatic communication. I also paid a short research visit to discuss collaborative project ideas with Prof. Anna Bonifazi of the University of Cologne. 

In July 2018, Naomi Benecasa presented our joint work on higher-order schemata underlying some musical cross-modal correspondences at the Montreal hub of the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition

In March 2018 I paid a visit to the Center for Cognitive Sciences at Comenius University in Bratislava, and gave two talks. In February 2018 I gave an invited talk, participated in a lab meeting and reading group discussion in the Department of Music at the University of Sheffield. I will be collaborating with Dr. Renee Timmers on project applications involving music and language. 

Antović, M. (2018). Schemas, grounds, meaning: On the emergence of musical concepts through conceptual blending. Musicae Scientiae, 22(1), 57-71.

Athanasopoulos, G. & Antović, M. (2018). Conceptual integration of sound and image: A model of perceptual modalities. Musicae Scientiae, 22(1), 72-87.

Antović, M. & Pagán Cánovas, C. (2018). Not dictated by metrics: Function words in the speech introductions of South Slavic oral epic. Language and Communication, 58, 11-23.


I presented my work on musical conceptualization and semiotics at the conference Musica Movet, University of Arts, Belgrade, October 2017. 

My book entitled From Neurons to Meaning: Linguistics in Cognitive Science (in Serbian) is now out. It is devised as the first cogsci primer in the region.


Antović, M. (2016). From Expectation to Concepts: Toward Multilevel Grounding in Musical Semantics. Cognitive Semiotics, 9(2): 105-138.

Antović, M., Stamenković, D. & Figar, V. (2016). Association of meaning in program music: On denotation, inherence, and onomatopoeia. Music Perception, 34(2): 243-248.  

In November 2016, I was visiting lecturer in the Middle European Master Program in Cognitive Science at the University of Vienna (funded by CEEPUS), and in December I paid a research visit to the Center for Knowledge and Data at the Free University of Bozen/Bolzano, developing a project on image schemas and concept creation.  

I talked at the workshop From Computational Creativity to Creativity Science, organized in the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Bielefeld, Germany, 19-22 September 2016 and also at the Pedagogical Forum of Scenic Arts, Faculty of Music, Belgrade, 1 October 2016.

Pagán Cánovas, C. & Antović, M. (Eds.) (2016). Oral Poetics and Cognitive Science. Berlin: De Gruyter. 

I presented a talk on the possible ways to "ground" musical meaning at the Second Conference of International Association for Cognitive Semiotics, Lublin, Poland, June 2016. 

Center for Cognitive Sciences hosted a Symbol Grounding Workshop in May 2016, with participants from Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and the USA. 

Pagán Cánovas, C. & Antović, M. (2016). Formulaic creativity: Oral poetics and cognitive grammar. Language and Communication, 47: 66-74.


Antović, M. (2015). A linguistic construct informs musicology: Ranking metrical constraints in music perception. Facta Universitatis, Linguistics & Literature, 13(2): 77-93

In October I talked at the workshop on Concept Invention and Blending in Music at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece (video). 

In June Naomi Benecasa of Rice University was appointed visiting scholar in the Center for Cognitive Sciences, working on a project on verbal descriptions of musical timbre. 

In March I gave a poster presentation of a paper coauthored with Dušan Stamenković and Vladimir Figar at the International Conference on the Multimodal Experience of Music, University of Sheffield, England.

In late February I gave an invited talk and participated in a workshop jointly organized by the Cognitive and Computational Musicology and Cognitive Linguistics Research Groups at the Artistotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. 


In November I gave a talk at the Central and East European Center for Cognitive Science at the New Bulgarian University in Sofia, and also a SCOPIA videoconference workshop at the Myrifield Institute for Cognition and the Arts (Myrifield, Massachusetts, USA).  In December I presented plans for my future research to colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Germany. 

I talked at the Fifth Conference of the UK Cognitive Linguistics Association (Lancaster, England, July 2014) (audio file here) and Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines (Budapest, Hungary, September 2014).

Prof. Mark Turner of CWRU paid a visit to the Center for Cognitive Sciences at the University of Niš (1-7 May 2014). 

I presented a paper at the conference Words and Music II (University of Maribor, Slovenia, 11-12 April 2014) and gave an invited talk on music, language and cognitive science in the Cognitive Science Research Platform of the University of Vienna, Austria, 13 March 2014.


A video of a talk that I gave at the First International Conference on the Science of Creative Thinking (Bologna, Italy, 29 Sep - 1 Oct 2013). I also served on the technical program committee for the conference.

Two invited articles coming out: "Metaphor in music or metaphor about music", for the book "Metaphors We Research", ed by Mateusz Milan Stanojevic, Srednja Europa, Zagreb Croatia; "Waging a war against oneself: A metaphor at the heart of Christian ascetic practice", for the book "Religious Language, Metaphor and the Mind", ed. by Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska, Oxford University Press.

Antovic, M., Bennett, A. & Turner, M. (2013). Running in Circles or Moving along Lines: Conceptualization of Music in Sighted and Blind Children. Musicae Scientiae, 17(2):227-243. 

The Cognitive Science Forum is becoming a full-fledged Center for Cognitive Sciences at the University of Niš.

Another article on idiom comprehension and spatial cognition, targeting 7-year-olds, has been published (Antovic, M. and Stamenkovic, D., 2012)

Together with Dr. Cristóbal Pagán Cánovas  I worked  on a project connecting cognitive linguistics and oral poetry, hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study of the University of Freiburg, Germany (October 2012-February 2013). A successful conference was organized 24-26 January 2013. A proceedings volume and two empirical papers are being prepared.

After a successful stay in April 2012, Professor Todd Oakley of CWRU visited University of Niš again, March 14-20, 2013.



My 2012 paper on creationism, evolutionism and cognitive science, written for the Yugoslav Association for the Scientific Study of Religion. 

A paper on the role of visuo-spatial information in the intuitive interpretation of strange idioms  (D. Stamenkovic and M. Antovic, 2012)

A paper on synesthesia in musicians with perfect pitch (with M. Petrovic, V. Milankovic, G. Acic, Proceedings of the 8th ESCOM Conference, Thessaloniki, Greece, July 2012). 

My talk at the Fifth Conference of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association (October 2012, with Cristóbal Pagán Cánovas).


I gave a lecture on Music, Language and Conceptualization at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Zagreb, Croatia (Nov 19, 2011).

I presented a paper at the 2011 Stockholm Metaphor Festival (Sep 2011).

A paper on Conceptual Blending and analysis of traditional South-Serbian songs (M. Antovic and M. Tasic).

My Fulbright research project on the conceptualization of music (2010/2011).

The Cognitive Science Forum  at the University of Niš held its first workshop in  December 2011.

My lecture on Music in Evolution in Development (CogSci 201 CWRU, Nov 8, 2010)

My lecture on The Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CogSci 206 , Oct 20, 2010)

The written version of the colloquium I gave at the CWRU CogSci Department on Sep 15, 2010