Washington: The most unforgettable photos are those that depict people, not static indoor scenes or landscapes, however beautiful or appealing they might be, a study suggests.
‘Pleasantness and memorability are not the same,’ says Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate student and study co-author Phillip Isola.
The new paper is the first to study what makes an image memorable – a trait long thought to be impenetrable to scientific study because visual memory can be so subjective.
‘People did not think it was possible to find anything consistent,’ says Aude Oliva, study co-author and associate professor of cognitive science at MIT.
However, the MIT team was surprised to see remarkable consistency among hundreds of people who participated in the memory experiments, according to an MIT statement.
Using their findings from humans, researchers developed a computer algorithm that can rank images based on memorability.
Such an algorithm could be useful to graphic designers, photo editors, or anyone trying to decide which of their vacation photos to post on Facebook, Oliva says.
Oliva’s previous research has shown that the human brain can remember thousands of images with a surprising level of detail. However, not all images are equally memorable.
For the new study, researchers built a collection of about 10,000 images of all kinds — interior-design photos, nature scenes, streetscapes and others.
Human subjects in the study were then shown a series of images, some of which were repeated. They had to press a key on their keyboard to indicate an image they said they had already seen.
Different research subjects produced similar memorability ratings.