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Make Your Photographs Unforgettable

A series of memorable and forgettable photos from the study. The forgettable images are in the top row. The memorable ones are in the bottom row. Images courtesy of the Oliva and Torralba labs

“A new study from MIT neuroscientists shows that the most memorable photos are those that contain people, followed by static indoor scenes and human-scale objects. Landscapes? They may be beautiful, but they are, in most cases, utterly forgettable.

“Pleasantness and memorability are not the same,” says MIT graduate student Phillip Isola, one of the lead authors of the paper, which will be presented at the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, taking place June 20-25 in Colorado Springs.

The new paper is the first to model 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, associate professor of cognitive science and a senior author of the paper.”

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