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MIT Research News

November 1, 2019

What makes an image memorable? Ask a computer

An artificial intelligence model developed at MIT shows in striking detail what makes some images stick in our minds.

Kim Martineau | MIT Quest for Intelligence

From the "Mona Lisa" to the "Girl with a Pearl Earring," some images linger in the mind long after others have faded. Ask an artist why, and you might hear some generally-accepted principles for making memorable art. Now there’s an easier way to learn: ask an artificial intelligence model to draw an example.

A new study using machine learning to generate images ranging from a memorable cheeseburger to a forgettable cup of coffee shows in close detail what makes a portrait or scene stand out. The images that human subjects in the study remembered best featured bright colors, simple backgrounds, and subjects that were centered prominently in the frame. Results were presented this week at the International Conference on Computer Vision.