In this study, we investigated the stages of information processing in associative recognition. We recorded EEG data while participants performed an associative recognition task that involved manipulations of word length, associative fan, and probe type, which were hypothesized to affect the perceptual encoding, retrieval, and decision stages of the recognition task, respectively. Analyses of the behavioral and EEG data, supplemented with classification of the EEG data using machine-learning techniques, provided evidence that generally supported the sequence of stages assumed by a computational model developed in the Adaptive Control of Thought-Rational cognitive architecture. However, the results suggested a more complex relationship between memory retrieval and decision-making than assumed by the model. Implications of the results for modeling associative recognition are discussed. The study illustrates how a classifier approach, in combination with focused manipulations, can be used to investigate the timing of processing stages.

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