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Understanding Low- and High-Level Contributions to Fixation Prediction

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Kümmerer, M., Wallis, T., Gatys, L., & Bethge, M. (2017). Understanding Low- and High-Level Contributions to Fixation Prediction. In 19th IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV 2017) (pp. 4799-4808). Piscataway, NJ, USA: IEEE.

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 highlevel (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 pretrained 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 lowlevel 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 stateof- 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.