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Keywords:

  • rhyme detection;
  • functional lateralization;
  • auditory fMRI;
  • frontal operculum;
  • anterior insula;
  • perisylvian cortex;
  • asymmetric sampling in time;
  • phonological judgment

In this study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the neural basis of auditory rhyme processing at the sentence level in healthy adults. In an explicit rhyme detection task, participants were required to decide whether the ending syllable of a metrically spoken pseudosentence rhymed or not. Participants performing this task revealed bilateral activation in posterior–superior temporal gyri with a much more extended cluster of activation in the right hemisphere. These findings suggest that the right hemisphere primarily supports suprasegmental tasks, such as the segmentation of speech into syllables; thus, our findings are in line with the “asymmetric sampling in time” model suggested by Poeppel (2004: Speech Commun 41:245–255). The direct contrast between rhymed and nonrhymed trials revealed a stronger BOLD response for rhymed trials in the frontal operculum and the anterior insula of the left hemisphere. Our results suggest an involvement of these frontal regions not only in articulatory rehearsal processes, but especially in the detection of a matching syllable, as well as in the execution of rhyme judgment. Hum Brain Mapp 34:3182–3192, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.