Perceptual User Interfaces Logo
University of Stuttgart Logo

Neural Photofit: Gaze-based Mental Image Reconstruction

Florian Strohm, Ekta Sood, Sven Mayer, Philipp Müller, Mihai Bâce, Andreas Bulling

arXiv:2108.07524, pp. 1–10, 2021.


We propose a novel method that leverages human fixations to visually decode the image a person has in mind into a photofit (facial composite). Our method combines three neural networks: An encoder, a scoring network, and a decoder. The encoder extracts image features and predicts a neural activation map for each face looked at by a human observer. A neural scoring network compares the human and neural attention and predicts a relevance score for each extracted image feature. Finally, image features are aggregated into a single feature vector as a linear combination of all features weighted by relevance which a decoder decodes into the final photofit. We train the neural scoring network on a novel dataset containing gaze data of 19 participants looking at collages of synthetic faces. We show that our method significantly outperforms a mean baseline predictor and report on a human study that shows that we can decode photofits that are visually plausible and close to the observer’s mental image. Code and dataset available upon request.



@techreport{strohm21_arxiv, title = {Neural Photofit: Gaze-based Mental Image Reconstruction}, author = {Strohm, Florian and Sood, Ekta and Mayer, Sven and Müller, Philipp and Bâce, Mihai and Bulling, Andreas}, year = {2021}, pages = {1--10}, url = {} }