Ilja Croijmans


Erasmusplein 1
6525 HT Nijmegen
Room: E 4.23
Phone: 024-3611475
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Ilja investigates the way people talk about their sensation of smell, taste and flavour (i.e. the multisensory equivalent of taste). Lay people (in Western cultures) struggle to talk about smells and flavours, while olfaction experts (such as wine experts) work with odours every day, and seem to be able to describe their experiences. For example, a wine expert seems to be able to describe a Pouilly-Fume from the French Loire region relatively effortlessly (“The limpid colour matches the clarity of the citrus and white stone fruits which create a harmony with the mineral notes.”), while a novice might describe the same wine plainly as “dry white”. This is not without controverse: some even go so far to say talking about wine is bullshit. However, what the actual difference in the language experts use is, and what the underlying explanation is, has rarely been investigated.

Ilja’s project focuses on these differences between experts and novices when they describe smells and flavors. Previous studies suggest how you talk about the world influences how you think about it. How does the way experts describe smells and flavors influence how they think about them? By comparing various groups of experts, novices and consumers, he studies the question how experts differ on olfactory language and cognition. He collects data mainly from wine experts, but also from coffee experts and is also interested in other types of smell and flavor expertise, such as perfumers, chocolatiers, master chefs, tea sommeliers and cheese mongers. In his research, he takes a multidisciplinary perspective on the language of flavour perception, combining psycholinguistics, neuroscience and cognitive psychology.

Ilja received his bachelor’s degree in Biological Psychology at the Maastricht University in 2010, and completed the Research Master in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience at Maastricht University in 2013 (Neuropsychology specialization), were he also obtained his NIP/BAPD psychodiagnostics registration. He is currently affiliated to the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) and the Graduate School for the Humanities (GSH) at the Radboud University. In his pastime, he likes to travel and explore the world in search for interesting flavours, to talk about these, and whenever time allows, he likes to combine these flavours in the beer that he brews and the food that he cooks.


Majid, A., Speed, L. J., Croijmans, I., & Arshamian, A. (in press). What makes a better smeller? Perception. Link to source | Full text (pdf)

Croijmans, I., & Majid, A. (2016). Language does not explain the wine-specific memory advantage of wine experts. In 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Cognitive Science Society. Full text (pdf)

Hendricks, I., Lefever, E., Croijmans, I., Majid, A., & Van den Bosch, A. (2016). Very quaffable and great fun: Applying NLP to wine reviews. In Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting on Association for Computational Linguistics. Association for Computational Linguistics. Full text (pdf)

Croijmans, I., & Majid, A. (2016). Not all flavor expertise is equal: The language of wine and coffee experts. PLoS ONE 5(5): e0155845. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155845. Link to source | Full text (pdf)

Croijmans, I., & Majid, A. (2015). Odor naming is difficult, even for wine and coffee experts. In D. C. Noelle, R. Dale, A. S. Warlaumont, J. Yoshimi, T. Matlock, C. D. Jennings, & P. P. Maglio (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2015) (pp. 483-488). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. Link to source | Full text (pdf)


Popular science article in KoffieTCacao (2016): “Gelukkig kunnen we erover praten: Over de kunst om geuren en smaken in woorden te omschrijven” p. 80-81.

Talks and lectures

Croijmans, I., Hendrickx, I., Lefever, E., Van den Bosch, A., & Majid, A. (2017). Predicting wine properties from expert wine reviews. CogLing7, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Majid, A. & Croijmans, I.M. (11-09-2016). The science of beer – Interactive beer tasting at Butcher’s Tears brewery in Amsterdam.

Majid, A. & Croijmans, I. (24-07-2015). Odor naming is difficult, even for wine and coffee experts. CogSci 2015 Pasadena, USA.

Croijmans, I. (14-02-2015). Quantifying the Language of Dutch Flavour Experts. Workshop Exploring the Senses, Nijmegen, NL.

Croijmans, I. & Speed, L.J. (05-11-2015). Olfactory language and cognition: Hunter-gatherers, Experts and Synesthetes. Helios taalcafé, Amsterdam, NL.

Croijmans, I. (10-12-2015). Olfactory language and cognition: wine experts and hunter gatherers. Invited speaker at Odorama 3 ,Mediamatic Amsterdam

Croijmans, I. (02-03-2015). Communiceren met geur, communiceren over geur. Guest lecture for the course Multimodal Communication; Bachelor Linguistics


Croijmans, I.   & Majid, A. (2016) Language does not explain the wine-specific memory advantage of wine experts. Poster presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Philadelphia, NJ, USA.

Croijmans, I.M. & Majid, A. (5-6-2016). Language does not explain the domain-specific memory advantage of wine experts. Poster presented at the International Symposium of Olfaction and Taste (ISOT), June 5-9 2016. Yokohama, Japan.

Croijmans, I. & Majid, A. (30-08-2015). The domain specific influence of expertise on flavour naming. Poster presented at Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP 2015), Malta.

Croijmans, I. & Majid, A. (28-03-2015). Flavour expertise and its influence on olfactory language. Poster presented at the International Conference for Psychological Science (ICPS 2015), Amsterdam, NL.

M. Crawford, S.D. Kyle, I.M. Croijmans, D.J. Bartlett, R.R. Grunstein, C.A. Espie (04-09 to 08-09-2012). Sleep Misperception In Insomnia: Changes In The Discrepancy Between Actigraphy And Self-Reported Total Sleep Time During A 4-Week Sleep Restriction Intervention. Poster presented at the 21st conference of the European Sleep Research Society, Paris, France.


Sep. 2013 –
International Max Planck Research School for Language Science, Graduate school, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Radboud University Graduate School for Humanities, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Jul. 2015 Summerschool on Human Olfaction, Universitatsklinikum Carl Gustav Magnus, Dresden, Germany
Oct. 2013 SWEN/SDEN 2: Wijnoorkonde, certificate demonstrating basic knowledge of wine
Sep. 2010 –
May 2013
Research Master Neuropsychology at Maastricht University. Thesis grade: 9.0
Sep. 2012 Workshop “Sleep Research Update 2012” at the 21st European Sleep Research Society Congress in Paris
Mar. 2011 Maastricht Brain Imaging Centre fMRI Workshop
Sep. 2007 –
Jul. 2010
Bachelor Biological Psychology at Maastricht University. GPA: 7.5
Jan. 2010 –
Jun. 2010
Bachelor Thesis project (title: “Measuring Driving Performance of Poorly Sleeping Elderly: a Driving Simulator Study”). Supervisor: Dr. Tim Leufkens; grade: 8.0
Apr. 2009 –
Jun. 2009
Course Research Practical (topic: Improving Mental Fatigue with Guarana). Supervisor: Dr. Eef Theunissen; grade: 8.5
Sep. 2001 –
Aug. 2007
Gymnasium, Veluws College Walterbosch, Apeldoorn. GPA: 7.8

Prizes and awards

Science Live@DRONGO Award 2015 (25-09-2015) Award for best live experiment during the Drongo language festival 2015. Award: 5000 euro to run an experiment at the NEMO science museum in Amsterdam

Public outreach

Ilja Cropijman’s reearch is covered in Mirror Mirror (Summer 2016 edition).
Title: Talking Scents

The Dutch radiostation Amsterdam FM interviewed Ilja Croijmans.
Title: Voor geur komt Nederlands woorden tekort
10-12-2015 ( )

Ilja Croijmans interviewed by ‘Radio 1, Belgium’.
Title: Woorden voor geuren; Programme: Nieuwe Feiten

Proefschrift, a Dutch professional magazine on wine, covered a collaboration project by Ilja and Iris Hendrickx in a short article in their September/October issue of 2015.

Ilja Croijmans interviewed by ‘Kennislink’.
Title: Getrainde neus herkent geuren niet beter- Waarom geuren omschrijven zo moeilijk is
22-07-2015 (

Radboud Website movie/interview about the research: De taal van de wijnexpert: