MIT Researchers Find Training Method to Improve Computer Vision’s Perceptual Straightness

Title: Enhancing Computer Vision: Training AI Models to Straighten Visual Representations


Imagine observing someone walking in a park while sitting on a bench. Unlike computers, our brains can interpret the changing visual information into a more stable representation over time. This ability, known as perceptual straightening, allows us to predict the trajectory of a person. However, computer vision models often lack this capability and represent visual information in unpredictable ways. MIT researchers have discovered that training computer vision models using adversarial training can enhance their perceptual straightness, making them more reliable in predicting object and human movement.

Improving Perceptual Straightness with Adversarial Training

Computer vision models are trained by presenting them with millions of examples to learn a task. The researchers at MIT found that using adversarial training, which reduces reactivity to small errors in images, improves the perceptual straightness of computer vision models. They also found that the specific task a model is trained on affects its ability to develop perceptually straight representations. Models trained for abstract tasks, such as image classification, demonstrate better perceptual straightness than those trained for fine-grained tasks, like pixel categorization.

The Impact of Perceptual Straightness

Perceptually straight representations in computer vision models ensure more stable and accurate predictions. For example, autonomous vehicles rely on computer vision models to predict pedestrian, cyclist, and vehicle trajectories for improved safety. By studying perceptual straightness, researchers aim to develop models with enhanced predictive capabilities, inspired by the human visual system.

Understanding Perceptual Straightening

Inspired by a 2019 NYU paper on perceptual straightness in humans, MIT researchers investigated the applicability of perceptual straightness in computer vision models. They observed the changes in the visual representations of various models at different learning stages by analyzing video frames. Models that demonstrate consistent representation changes throughout the frames are considered to straighten. Adversarially trained models, which are able to withstand subtle image modifications, showed the most effective straightening.

Limitations and Further Research

Adversarially trained models exhibit perceptual straightness when trained for broad tasks like image classification. However, models trained specifically for segmentation, where every pixel is labeled, do not straighten even with adversarial training. This raises questions about how humans perceive natural scenes compared to computer vision models and the representation and prediction of objects in motion while considering spatial details. The researchers plan to develop new training schemes that explicitly incorporate perceptual straightness and delve into the mechanisms through which adversarial training contributes to straightening.


MIT researchers have made significant progress in enhancing computer vision models through the concept of perceptual straightness. By taking insights from the human visual system and leveraging adversarial training, models can exhibit more stable representations and improve their predictive capabilities. This research has promising implications for autonomous vehicles and other applications that rely on accurate object and motion prediction.

1. The Power of Perceptual Straightness: Enhancing Computer Vision
2. Adversarial Training: A Key to Perceptual Straightening
3. Implications and Future Research: Enhancing Predictive Capabilities

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