SUnS 07


Scene Understanding Symposium

February 1-2, 2007



The SUnS 08website is currently in progress.

After the success of SUnS 06, we organized a second Scene Understanding Symposium on February 1-2, 2007.

SUnS 07 feature about 20 speakers from a variety of disciplines (neurophysiology, cognitive neuroscience, visual cognition, computational neuroscience and computer vision) who will address a range of topics related to real world scene understanding and natural image processing, rapid image recognition, contextual effects on object recognition, the relationships between bottom-up and top-down processes of visual information, the role of attention in complex image recognition, among others. The goal of the symposium is to encourage exchanges between researchers of all fields of brain sciences in the burgeoning field of scene understanding.

Sponsored by the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, the National Institutes of Health (T32 EY013935 and T32 MH020007), the National Science Foundation (IIS-CAREER award No. 0546262) and the MIT Open Course Ware.


Organizers Aude Oliva (, Thomas Serre (, Antonio Torralba (
Schedule Thursday 1 February (1 pm to 6 pm) and Friday 2 February (9 am to 5 pm)
Location MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, 43 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA 02139 - Bldg 46-3002 (campus map)

Click here to register - Admission is free and open to the research community but registration is required

Program Download Program and Abstract Booklet here



  Thursday , 1 February
1:00 Opening Remarks


Scene Representation: A Behavioral Perspective


Perceiving, remembering & knowing in scene cognition: Where are the divisions? slides.pdf (Paper1, Paper2)
  Helene Intraub

Psychology Dept, University of Delaware

1:35-1:50 Transient attention when detecting pictures in RSVP search slides.pdf
  Mary C. Potter, Rijuta Pandav, & Brad Wyble

Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT



1:55-2:10 Automatic and Implicit Encoding of Scene Gist slides.pdf  
  Timothy Brady & Aude Oliva
  Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
2:15 Coffee Break


Scene Representation: A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective
2:30-2:55 Neural systems for visual scene recognition (Paper1, Paper2)
  Russell Epstein
  Psychology Dept and Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania
3:00-3:25 Different roles of the parahippocampal place area (PPA) and retrosplenial cortex (RSC) in scene perception Paper1
  Soojin Park & Marvin Chun 
  Department of Psychology, Yale University
3:30:-3:45 Natural scene classification using distributed patterns of fMRI activity
  Li Fei-Fei, D. B. Walther, E. Caddigan & D. Beck
  Computer Science Department, Princeton University
3:50-4:15 Scenes, Contextual Associations and The Brain's Default Mode (Paper1, Paper2, Paper3)
  Moshe Bar, Elissa Aminoff, Malia Mason, Mark Fenske
  Martinos Center, Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School
4:20 Coffee Break


Capacity Limits on Scene and Object Processing
4:40-5:00 Robustness to Clutter and Diverted Attention in Ventral Visual Cortex
  Leila Reddy & Nancy Kanwisher
  McGovern Institute for Brain Research and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
5:05-5:30 Categorization of objects and scene context at various levels : can we always rely on fast visual processing? slides.pdf (Paper1, Paper2, Paper3)
  Michèle Fabre-Thorpe
  CerCo, Universite Toulouse 3, CNRS, France
5:35-5:55 Eye movements and high-level saliency effects in natural scenes slides.pdf (Paper1)
  Simon J. Thorpe
  CerCo, Universite Toulouse 3, CNRS, France
6:00-6:20 Rapid object categorization without conscious recognition: a neuropsychological study slides.pdf
  Muriel Boucart
  University Lille 2, CNRS, Lille Hospital, France
6:25 End


 Friday, 2 February
8:30 Breakfast


Computational Approaches to Scene and Image Understanding


Object and scene recognition on tiny images
  Antonio Torralba, Rob Fergus & William T. Freeman
  Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, MIT
9:25-9:45 It's a 3D World: Toward a Qualitative 3D Representation of a Scene slides.pdf (Paper1, Paper2)
  Alyosha Efros, Derek Hoiem & Martial Hebert
  Computer Science Department, Carnegie Mellon University
9:50-10:10 Observations from Parsing Images of Architectural Scenes
  Alexander C. Berg, Floraine Grabler, Maneesh Agrawala & Jitendra Malik
  Computer Science Division, Berkeley
10:15-10:40 Hierarchical statistical models for local and global structure in natural scenes (Paper1, Paper2, Paper3) 
  Michael Lewicki
  Computer Science & Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Carnegie Mellon University
10:45 Coffee Break


Scene Understanding: Role of Attentional Mechanisms and Cortical Feedback I
11:10-11:30 Neural Synchrony and Visual Search
  Robert Desimone
  McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT
11:35-12:05 Neurophysiological and behavioral effects of familiarity on visual search (Paper)
  David Sheinberg & Ryan Mruczek
  Department of Neuroscience, Brown University
12:15 Lunch Break
1:15 Poster Session


Scene Understanding: Role of Attentional Mechanisms and Cortical Feedback II
2:15-2:35 Modeling visual search in real scenes: what's the setsize?
  Ruth Rosenholtz
  Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
2:40-3:00 Modeling attention to proto-objects in natural scenes slides.pdf (Paper1, Paper2, Paper3)
  Dirk B Walther
  Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagn
3:05-3:25 Guidance of visual search by unlocalized scene properties slides.pdf
  Jeremy Wolfe
  Brigham and Women's Hospital & Harvard Medical School
3:30 Coffee Break
3:55-4:25 Feature-based attention dynamically changes shape representation in area V4 (Paper1, Paper2)
  Jack Gallant
  Dept. of Psychology & Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, Berkeley
4:30-4:50 Immediate perception and feedforward models: what is next? slides.pdf (Paper1, Paper2)
  Tomaso Poggio
  Center for Biological and Computational Learning, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT
4:55-5:00 Concluding Remarks
5:00 - 6:00 Reception
Artwork by Maria Flaque