People have an amazing ability to learn patterns in the environment around them. Often they do this without even realising or being able to explain what they know.
From a constant stream of complicated, noisy data can emerge understanding of structures like language, categories, or which events are likely to follow others in time. These processes of pattern recognition in speech allow children to develop language abilities. Recent research by Dr Matt Roser and colleagues suggest that the same kinds of processes help us make sense of the visual environment.
In 2011 Matt Roser and colleagues (Roser, Fiser, Aslin, & Gazzaniga, 2011) tested a patient with a split-brain (two hemispheres of the brain have been separated by surgery) and participants with intact brains by presenting multi-shape scenes in either the right or the left visual fields. Participants were unaware that the scenes were composed from a random combination of pairs of shapes, always appearing together in a fixed spatial relationship, such as one above the other or side by side.