Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

French Studies

Reader 1

Brian Duistermars

Reader 2

Julin Everett

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.


Differences in language and culture keep most humans on earth from interacting and understanding each other. It remains unclear what regions of the brain, if any, correlate to this variance or if widespread cognitive processing is involved. To provide further understanding of this problem, we will analyze the neural circuits involved in emotion, personality, and political ideology between native English speakers and native French speakers, as well as monolinguals vs. bilinguals. The proposed experiments will present visual stimuli that interrogate broad aspects of these traits in experimental subjects. Also, the brain activity in response to each of these types of stimuli will be imaged using BOLD-fMRI and compared across subjects to identify potential differences. More specifically, bilinguals are expected to have tempered emotional responses, particular personality traits, and less defensiveness against challenges to political beliefs compared to monolinguals. Bilinguals are expected to have Material/Pragmatic and Thinking/Feeling personalities, while monolinguals are expected to have Emotion/Feeling and Intuitive/Imaginative personalities. No significant difference between English speakers and French speakers is expected. Results from these experiments could inform how the brain learns languages and the best conditions for a second language to be learned. Finally, these studies may also reveal that learning a second language promotes cultural awareness and calm, rational thought, by inducing widespread changes in the brain.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.