Only problems that cannot be solved without representational changes can be regarded as pure insight problems; others are classified as pseudo-insight problems. Existing studies using neuroimaging have not yet distinguished between pure insight and pseudo-insight problems. This study is the first to investigate the brain mechanism of representational change via the remote associates test. Based on the homonymy of Chinese characters, we developed two sets of Chinese remote associates tests (CRATs). By comparing the brain activity of 30 adults during pure and pseudo-insight problem solving, we analysed the commonality and uniqueness of brain activation while solving these two insight problems. The results show that these two types of insight problem solving share the same brain activation area (i.e., the ventral precuneus and thalamus) and different operating areas. This study enhances our understanding of how representational change generates insight.
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