Remote association is the ability to combine seemingly unrelated components into new concepts and is evaluated via the Remote Associates Test (RAT). The RAT has generally been used to examine brain activation during insight problem solving but not remote association. Moreover, little is known about the neural correlates of remote association and close association. To address this issue, we used the associative distance in the development of the RAT and designed remote associated items and close associated items. We collected brain images during observation of remote and close associated items from 30 adult participants and analyzed the activation of brain regions involved in remote and close associations. The results showed that processing of remote and close association occurred in the posterior cingulate cortex. After controlling for the influence of other associations, we found that the rostromedial prefrontal cortex, precuneus, and middle temporal gyrus were involved exclusively in remote association. These results showed that remote association has conjunctive and disjunctive neurocognitive mechanisms. Our results contribute to the understanding of the neurocognitive mechanisms of different associations and provide empirical support for the associative theory of creativity.
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