That associative processing provides the vehicle of thought is a long-standing idea. We describe here observations from cognitive neuroimaging that elucidate the neural processing that mediates this element. This account further allows a more specific ascription of a cognitive function to the brain's "default" activity in mind-wandering. We extend this account to argue that one primary outcome of associative processing is the generation of predictions, which approximate the immediately relevant future and thus facilitate perception, action, and the progression of thought.
Bar, Moshe, Elissa Aminoff, Malia Mason, and Mark Fenske. "The Units of Thought." Hippocampus 17, no. 6 (2007): 420-428.
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