SalGAN: Visual Saliency Prediction with Generative Adversarial Networks

Junting Pan Cristian Canton Ferrer Kevin McGuinness Noel O'Connor Jordi Torres Elisa Sayrol Xavier Giro-i-Nieto
Junting Pan Cristian Canton Ferrer Kevin McGuinness Noel O’Connor Jordi Torres Elisa Sayrol Xavier Giro-i-Nieto

A joint collaboration between:

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Insight Centre for Data Analytics Dublin City University (DCU) Microsoft Barcelona Supercomputing Center UPC Image Processing Group


We introduce SalGAN, a deep convolutional neural network for visual saliency prediction trained with adversarial examples. The first stage of the network consists of a generator model whose weights are learned by back-propagation computed from a binary cross entropy (BCE) loss over downsampled versions of the saliency maps. The resulting prediction is processed by a discriminator network trained to solve a binary classification task between the saliency maps generated by the generative stage and the ground truth ones. Our experiments show how adversarial training allows reaching state-of-the-art performance across different metrics when combined with a widely-used loss function like BCE.


SalGAN: Visual Saliency Prediction with Generative Adversarial Networks from Xavier Giro


Find the pre-print version of our work on arXiv.

Image of the paper

Please cite with the following Bibtex code:

author = {Pan, Junting and Canton, Cristian and McGuinness, Kevin and O'Connor, Noel E. and Torres, Jordi and Sayrol, Elisa and Giro-i-Nieto, Xavier and},
title = {SalGAN: Visual Saliency Prediction with Generative Adversarial Networks},
booktitle = {arXiv},
month = {January},
year = {2017}

You may also want to refer to our publication with the more human-friendly Chicago style:

Junting Pan, Cristian Canton, Kevin McGuinness, Noel E. O’Connor, Jordi Torres, Elisa Sayrol and Xavier Giro-i-Nieto. “SalGAN: Visual Saliency Prediction with Generative Adversarial Networks.” arXiv. 2017.


The SalGAN presented in our work can be downloaded from the links provided below the figure:

SalGAN Architecture architecture-fig

Visual Results

Qualitative saliency predictions



As explained in our paper, our networks were trained on the training and validation data provided by SALICON.


Two different dataset were used for test: * Test partition of SALICON dataset. * MIT300.

Software frameworks

Our paper presents two convolutional neural networks, one correspends to the Generator (Saliency Prediction Network) and the another is the Discriminator for the adversarial training. To compute saliency maps only the Generator is needed.

SalGAN on Lasagne

SalGAN is implemented in Lasagne, which at its time is developed over Theano. pip install -r


To train our model from scrath you need to run the following command: THEANO_FLAGS=mode=FAST_RUN,device=gpu,floatX=float32,lib.cnmem=1,optimizer_including=cudnn python In order to run the test script to predict saliency maps, you can run the following command after specifying the path to you images and the path to the output saliency maps: THEANO_FLAGS=mode=FAST_RUN,device=gpu,floatX=float32,lib.cnmem=1,optimizer_including=cudnn python With the provided model weights you should obtain the follwing result:

| Image Stimuli | Saliency Map | |:-:|:-:|

Download the pretrained VGG-16 weights from: vgg16.pkl


We would like to especially thank Albert Gil Moreno and Josep Pujal from our technical support team at the Image Processing Group at the UPC.

AlbertGil-photo JosepPujal-photo
Albert Gil Josep Pujal
We gratefully acknowledge the support of NVIDIA Corporation with the donation of the GeoForce GTX Titan Z and Titan X used in this work. logo-nvidia
The Image ProcessingGroup at the UPC is a SGR14 Consolidated Research Group recognized and sponsored by the Catalan Government (Generalitat de Catalunya) through its AGAUR office. logo-catalonia
This work has been developed in the framework of the projects BigGraph TEC2013-43935-R and Malegra TEC2016-75976-R, funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). logo-spain
This publication has emanated from research conducted with the financial support of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) under grant number SFI/12/RC/2289. logo-ireland


If you have any general doubt about our work or code which may be of interest for other researchers, please use the public issues section on this github repo. Alternatively, drop us an e-mail at