PPCR: Learning Pyramid Pixel Context Recalibration Module for Medical Image Classification

Spatial attention mechanism has been widely incorporated into deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) via long-range dependency capturing, significantly lifting the performance in computer vision, but it may perform poorly in medical imaging. Unfortunately, existing efforts are often unaware that long-range dependency capturing has limitations in highlighting subtle lesion regions, neglecting to exploit the potential of multi-scale pixel context information to improve the representational capability of CNNs. In this paper, we propose a practical yet lightweight architectural unit, Pyramid Pixel Context Recalibration (PPCR) module, which exploits multi-scale pixel context information to recalibrate pixel position in a pixel-independent manner adaptively. PPCR first designs a cross-channel pyramid pooling to aggregate multi-scale pixel context information, then eliminates the inconsistency among them by the well-designed pixel normalization, and finally estimates per pixel attention weight via a pixel context integration. PPCR can be flexibly plugged into modern CNNs with negligible overhead. Extensive experiments on five medical image datasets and CIFAR benchmarks empirically demonstrate the superiority and generalization of PPCR over state-of-the-art attention methods. The in-depth analyses explain the inherent behavior of PPCR in the decision-making process, improving the interpretability of CNNs.


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