TDAM: Top-Down Attention Module for Contextually Guided Feature Selection in CNNs
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: https://github.com/shantanuj/TDAM_Top_down_attention_module"