Visual feature binding has been suggested to depend on reentrant processing. We addressed the relationship between binding, reentry, and visual awareness by asking the participants to discriminate the color and orientation of a colored bar (presented either alone or simultaneously with a white distractor bar) and to report their phenomenal awareness of the target features. The success of reentry was manipulated with object substitution masking and backward masking. The results showed that late reentrant processes are necessary for successful binding but not for phenomenal awareness of the bound features. Binding errors were accompanied by phenomenal awareness of the misbound feature conjunctions, demonstrating that they were experienced as real properties of the stimuli (i.e., illusory conjunctions). Our results suggest that early preattentive binding and local recurrent processing enable features to reach phenomenal awareness, while later attention-related reentrant iterations modulate the way in which the features are bound and experienced in awareness.
- Illusory conjunctions