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Object recognition with hierarchical discriminant saliency networks.


The benefits of integrating attention and object recognition are investigated. While attention is frequently modeled as a pre-processor for recognition, we investigate the hypothesis that attention is an intrinsic component of recognition and vice-versa. This hypothesis is tested with a recognition model, the hierarchical discriminant saliency network (HDSN), whose layers are top-down saliency detectors, tuned for a visual class according to the principles of discriminant saliency. As a model of neural computation, the HDSN has two possible implementations. In a biologically plausible implementation, all layers comply with the standard neurophysiological model of visual cortex, with sub-layers of simple and complex units that implement a combination of filtering, divisive normalization, pooling, and non-linearities. In a convolutional neural network implementation, all layers are convolutional and implement a combination of filtering, rectification, and pooling. The rectification is performed with a parametric extension of the now popular rectified linear units (ReLUs), whose parameters can be tuned for the detection of target object classes. This enables a number of functional enhancements over neural network models that lack a connection to saliency, including optimal feature denoising mechanisms for recognition, modulation of saliency responses by the discriminant power of the underlying features, and the ability to detect both feature presence and absence. In either implementation, each layer has a precise statistical interpretation, and all parameters are tuned by statistical learning. Each saliency detection layer learns more discriminant saliency templates than its predecessors and higher layers have larger pooling fields. This enables the HDSN to simultaneously achieve high selectivity to target object classes and invariance. The performance of the network in saliency and object recognition tasks is compared to those of models from the biological and computer vision literatures. This demonstrates benefits for all the functional enhancements of the HDSN, the class tuning inherent to discriminant saliency, and saliency layers based on templates of increasing target selectivity and invariance. Altogether, these experiments suggest that there are non-trivial benefits in integrating attention and recognition.

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