TDAM: Top-Down Attention Module for Contextually Guided Feature Selection in CNNs

26 Nov 2021  ·  Shantanu Jaiswal, Basura Fernando, Cheston Tan ·

Attention modules for Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) are an effective method to enhance performance on multiple computer-vision tasks. While existing methods appropriately model channel-, spatial- and self-attention, they primarily operate in a feedforward bottom-up manner. Consequently, the attention mechanism strongly depends on the local information of a single input feature map and does not incorporate relatively semantically-richer contextual information available at higher layers that can specify "what and where to look" in lower-level feature maps through top-down information flow. Accordingly, in this work, we propose a lightweight top-down attention module (TDAM) that iteratively generates a "visual searchlight" to perform channel and spatial modulation of its inputs and outputs more contextually-relevant feature maps at each computation step. Our experiments indicate that TDAM enhances the performance of CNNs across multiple object-recognition benchmarks and outperforms prominent attention modules while being more parameter and memory efficient. Further, TDAM-based models learn to "shift attention" by localizing individual objects or features at each computation step without any explicit supervision resulting in a 5% improvement for ResNet50 on weakly-supervised object localization. Source code and models are publicly available at: .

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