Understanding low-and high-level contributions to fixation prediction


Understanding where people look in images is an important problem in computer vision. Despite significant research, it remains unclear to what extent human fixations can be predicted by low-level (contrast) compared to high-level (presence of objects) image features. Here we address this problem by introducing two novel models that use different feature spaces but the same readout architecture. The first model predicts human fixations based on deep neural network features trained on object recognition. This model sets a new state-of-the art in fixation prediction by achieving top performance in area under the curve metrics on the MIT300 hold-out benchmark (AUC= 88%, sAUC= 77%, NSS= 2.34). The second model uses purely low-level (isotropic contrast) features. This model achieves better performance than all models not using features pre-trained on object recognition, making it a strong baseline to assess the utility of high-level features. We then evaluate and visualize which fixations are better explained by low-level compared to high-level image features. Surprisingly we find that a substantial proportion of fixations are better explained by the simple low-level model than the state-of-the-art model. Comparing different features within the same powerful readout architecture allows us to better understand the relevance of low-versus high-level features in predicting fixation locations, while simultaneously achieving state-of-the-art saliency prediction.

Matthias Bethge
Matthias Bethge
Professor for Computational Neuroscience and Machine Learning & Director of the Tübingen AI Center

Matthias Bethge is Professor for Computational Neuroscience and Machine Learning at the University of Tübingen and director of the Tübingen AI Center, a joint center between Tübingen University and MPI for Intelligent Systems that is part of the German AI strategy.