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Predicting human complexity perception of real-world scenes

Nagle, F; Lavie, N; (2020) Predicting human complexity perception of real-world scenes. Royal Society Open Science , 7 (5) , Article 191487. 10.1098/rsos.191487. Green open access

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Abstract

Perceptual load is a well-established determinant of attentional engagement in a task. So far, perceptual load has typically been manipulated by increasing either the number of task-relevant items or the perceptual processing demand (e.g. conjunction versus feature tasks). The tasks used often involved rather simple visual displays (e.g. letters or single objects). How can perceptual load be operationalized for richer, real-world images? A promising proxy is the visual complexity of an image. However, current predictive models for visual complexity have limited applicability to diverse real-world images. Here we modelled visual complexity using a deep convolutional neural network (CNN) trained to learn perceived ratings of visual complexity. We presented 53 observers with 4000 images from the PASCAL VOC dataset, obtaining 75 020 2-alternative forced choice paired comparisons across observers. Image visual complexity scores were obtained using the TrueSkill algorithm. A CNN with weights pre-trained on an object recognition task predicted complexity ratings with r = 0.83. By contrast, feature-based models used in the literature, working on image statistics such as entropy, edge density and JPEG compression ratio, only achieved r = 0.70. Thus, our model offers a promising method to quantify the perceptual load of real-world scenes through visual complexity.

Type: Article
Title: Predicting human complexity perception of real-world scenes
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.191487
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.191487
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: visual complexity, perceptual load, attention
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099056
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