Reinforcement learning used for an adaptive attention mechanism, and integrated in an architecture with both top-down and bottom-up vision processing

Ognibene, D.; Baldassare, G., Ecological Active Vision: Four Bioinspired Principles to Integrate Bottom–Up and Adaptive Top–Down Attention Tested With a Simple Camera-Arm Robot, Autonomous Mental Development, IEEE Transactions on , vol.7, no.1, pp.3,25, March 2015. DOI: 10.1109/TAMD.2014.2341351.

Vision gives primates a wealth of information useful to manipulate the environment, but at the same time it can easily overwhelm their computational resources. Active vision is a key solution found by nature to solve this problem: a limited fovea actively displaced in space to collect only relevant information. Here we highlight that in ecological conditions this solution encounters four problems: 1) the agent needs to learn where to look based on its goals; 2) manipulation causes learning feedback in areas of space possibly outside the attention focus; 3) good visual actions are needed to guide manipulation actions, but only these can generate learning feedback; and 4) a limited fovea causes aliasing problems. We then propose a computational architecture (“BITPIC”) to overcome the four problems, integrating four bioinspired key ingredients: 1) reinforcement-learning fovea-based top-down attention; 2) a strong vision-manipulation coupling; 3) bottom-up periphery-based attention; and 4) a novel action-oriented memory. The system is tested with a simple simulated camera-arm robot solving a class of search-and-reach tasks involving color-blob “objects.” The results show that the architecture solves the problems, and hence the tasks, very efficiently, and highlight how the architecture principles can contribute to a full exploitation of the advantages of active vision in ecological conditions.

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