Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2016

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 02/23/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Daniel Tranel

First Committee Member

Michelle W Voss

Second Committee Member

Bob McMurray

Third Committee Member

Molly Nikolas

Fourth Committee Member

Natalie L Denburg


Older bilingual adults typically perform better than monolinguals in tasks of executive control, and are diagnosed later with dementia. Studies have also shown structural and functional brain differences between bilinguals and monolinguals. However, it remains poorly understood how language history influences the functional organization of the aging brain. The current study investigated; 1) differences in resting-state functional connectivity between monolinguals and bilinguals in the Default Mode Network (DMN), Frontoparietal Network (FPN), Executive Control Network (ECN), Language Network (LANG), and a network consisting of structures associated with tasks of executive control coined the Bilingual Control Network (BCN); 2) the relationship of cognitive performance with functional connectivity of the BCN; and 3) whether proficiency, age of second language acquisition, degree of second language exposure, and frequency of language use predicts the network’s functional connectivity. Healthy older bilinguals (N=10) were matched pairwise for age, sex and education to healthy older monolinguals (N=10). All participants completed a battery of cognitive tests, a language history questionnaire, and a 6-minute functional scan during rest. Results showed that groups did not differ in cognitive performance, or in the functional connectivity of the FPN, ECN, LANG, or BCN. However, monolinguals had significantly stronger functional connectivity in the DMN compared to bilinguals. Later age of second language acquisition and lower proficiency were also associated with greater DMN functional connectivity. None of these variables predicted BCN’s functional connectivity. However, bilinguals showed stronger functional connectivity with other structures outside of the canonical networks compared to monolinguals. Finally, vocabulary scores, local switch cost accuracy and reaction time were negatively correlated with BCN’s functional connectivity. Overall, these findings illustrate differences in functional brain organization associated with language experience in the DMN, while challenging the “bilingual advantage” hypothesis. The results also suggest a possible neural mechanism by which bilingualism might mediate cognitive reserve.


cognitive reserve, fMRI, language, neuropsychology, resting-state functional connectivity


xiii, 99 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 81-99).


Copyright © 2016 Edmarie Guzmán-Veléz

Available for download on Saturday, February 23, 2019

Included in

Psychology Commons