Phonological encoding depends on left-lateralized regions in the supramarginal gyrus and the ventral precentral gyrus. Localization of these phonological regions in individual participants-including individuals with language impairments-is important in several research and clinical contexts. To localize these regions, we developed two paradigms that load on phonological encoding: a rhyme judgment task and a syllable counting task. Both paradigms relied on an adaptive staircase design to ensure that each individual performed each task at a similarly challenging level. The goal of this study was to assess the validity and reliability of the two paradigms, in terms of their ability to consistently produce left-lateralized activations of the supramarginal gyrus and ventral precentral gyrus in neurologically normal individuals with presumptively normal language localization. Sixteen participants were scanned with fMRI as they performed the rhyme judgment paradigm, the syllable counting paradigm, and an adaptive semantic paradigm that we have described previously. We found that the rhyme and syllable paradigms both yielded left-lateralized supramarginal and ventral precentral activations in the majority of participants. The rhyme paradigm produced more lateralized and more reliable activations, and so should be favored in future applications. In contrast, the semantic paradigm did not reveal supramarginal or precentral activations in most participants, suggesting that the recruitment of these regions is indeed driven by phonological encoding, not language processing in general. In sum, the adaptive rhyme judgment paradigm was effective in localizing left-lateralized phonological encoding regions in individual participants, and, in conjunction with the adaptive semantic paradigm, can be used to map individual language networks.
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