The neurobiology of bilingualism is hotly debated. The present study examines whether normalized cortical measurements can be used to reliably classify monolinguals versus bilinguals in a structural MRI dataset of Farsi-English bilinguals and English monolinguals. A decision tree classifier classified bilinguals with an average correct classification rate of 85%, and monolinguals with a rate of 71.4%. The most relevant regions for classification were the right supramarginal gyrus, left inferior temporal gyrus and left inferior frontal gyrus. Larger studies with carefully matched monolingual and bilingual samples are needed to confirm that features of these regions can reliably categorize monolingual and bilingual brains. Nonetheless, the present findings suggest that a single structural MRI scan, analyzed with measures readily available using default procedures in a free open-access software (Freesurfer), can be used to reliably predict an individual's language experience using a decision tree classifier, and that Farsi-English bilingualism implicates regions identified in previous group-level studies of bilingualism in other languages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-49
Number of pages8
JournalBrain and Language
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Bilingualism
  • Decision tree classification
  • Structural MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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