Human Attention in Image Captioning: Dataset and Analysis

Sen He, Hamed R. Tavakoli, Ali Borji, Nicolas Pugeault; Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), 2019, pp. 8529-8538


In this work, we present a novel dataset consisting of eye movements and verbal descriptions recorded synchronously over images. Using this data, we study the differences in human attention during free-viewing and image captioning tasks. We look into the relationship between human atten- tion and language constructs during perception and sen- tence articulation. We also analyse attention deployment mechanisms in the top-down soft attention approach that is argued to mimic human attention in captioning tasks, and investigate whether visual saliency can help image caption- ing. Our study reveals that (1) human attention behaviour differs in free-viewing and image description tasks. Hu- mans tend to fixate on a greater variety of regions under the latter task, (2) there is a strong relationship between de- scribed objects and attended objects (97% of the described objects are being attended), (3) a convolutional neural net- work as feature encoder accounts for human-attended re- gions during image captioning to a great extent (around 78%), (4) soft-attention mechanism differs from human at- tention, both spatially and temporally, and there is low correlation between caption scores and attention consis- tency scores. These indicate a large gap between humans and machines in regards to top-down attention, and (5) by integrating the soft attention model with image saliency, we can significantly improve the model's performance on Flickr30k and MSCOCO benchmarks. The dataset can be found at: Human-Attention-in-Image-Captioning.

Related Material

author = {He, Sen and Tavakoli, Hamed R. and Borji, Ali and Pugeault, Nicolas},
title = {Human Attention in Image Captioning: Dataset and Analysis},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV)},
month = {October},
year = {2019}