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International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems

LGOH-Based Discriminant
Centre-Surround Saliency Detection

Regular Paper



Lili Lin
1
and Wenhui Zhou
2,*


1 College of Information and Electronic Engineering, Zhejiang Gongshang University, China
2 School of Computer Science and Technology, Hangzhou Dianzi University, China
* Corresponding author E-mail: zhouwenhui@hdu.edu.cn

Received 06 Jan 2013; Accepted 09 Oct 2013

DOI: 10.5772/57222

© 2013 Lin and Zhou; licensee InTech. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Abstract Discriminant saliency is a kind of decision-
theoretic-based saliency detection method that has been
proposed recently. Based on local gradient distribution,
this paper proposes a simple but efficient discriminant
centre-surround hypothesis, and builds local and global
saliency models by combining multi-scale intensity
contrast with colour and orientation features. This
method makes three important contributions. First, a
circular and multi-scale hierarchical centre-surround
profile is designed for the local saliency detection.
Secondly, the dense local gradient orientation histogram
(LGOH) of the centre-surround region is counted and
used for the local saliency analysis. And thirdly, a new
integration strategy for the local and global saliency is
proposed and applied to the final visual saliency
discriminant. Experiments demonstrate the effectiveness
of the proposed method. Compared with 12 state-of-the-
art saliency detection models, the proposed method
outperforms the others in precision-recall, F-measures
and mean absolute error (MAE), and can produce a more
complete salient object.

Keywords Saliency Detection, Centre-Surround Profile,
Visual Selective Attention, Local Gradient Orientation
Histogram
1. Introduction

The mechanism of saliency plays an important role in
visual selective attention. It may provide a rapid and
effective strategy to reduce the computational complexity
of visual processing. Inspired by biological vision
systems, numerous computational saliency models of
visual attention have been proposed and widely used in
the fields of machine vision, image processing and
intelligent robotics, etc.

Most of current biologically-inspired visual saliency
models usually rely on bottom-up/spatial-based or top-
down/object-based processing. The bottom-up model is
based on feature integration theory and the centre-
surround hypothesis [1-2]. The primal images are
decomposed into several independent feature spaces,
such as intensity, colour and orientation, etc. The
conspicuity map of each feature space is extracted
individually, and they are then linearly combined to form
the final saliency map. The top-down model is a kind of
goal-directed saliency analysis, and it requires prior
knowledge of the tasks in question [3-4]. Compared with
the bottom-up model, it can realize more efficient and
1 Lili Lin and Wenhui Zhou: LGOH-based Discriminant Centre-Surround Saliency Detection
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Int. j. adv. robot. syst., 2013, Vol. 10, 385:2013
accurate visual searching, but its cost is lower speed and
higher computational complexity. Some alternative
models have been proposed that integrate top-down and
bottom-up saliency attention [5-6]. However, the main
shortcomings of these models are low resolution, poorly-
defined object boundaries and high computational costs.

In recent years, many saliency models have been
proposed. R. Achanta et al. presented a fast salient region
detection method based on the low-level features of
luminance and colour [7]. It can generate high quality
saliency maps of the same size and resolution as the input
image. R. Achanta et al. also introduced a higher
precision salient region detector based on a frequency-
tuned method [8]. V. Gopalakrishnan et al. presented a
colour and orientation distribution-based salient region
detection framework [9]. They introduced a novel
orientation histogram of image regions that can be used
to characterize the local and global orientations. D. Gao et
al. proposed a discriminant saliency detector [10-11]. It is
rooted in the decision-theoretic interpretation of
perception, and can produce optimal saliency measures
in the sense of classification. In the frequency domain, Q.
Zhang et al. analysed and integrated local saliency, global
saliency and rarity saliency into the same framework [12].
Distinct from the bio-inspired models, these models are
usually pure computational ones. Although they are
inspired by the biological concept of centre-surround
contrast, they are not based on any biological model. In
addition, a centre-surround hypothesis based on Weber’s
Law [13] has been proposed by us. It provides better
saliency detection performance than those of Itti [1],
Achanta [8] and Rahtu [14]. However, this method
exhibits undesirable blur in the detected salient object,
and tends to highlight objects’ boundaries rather than the
whole object.

In this paper, we introduce a new and efficient
discriminant centre-surround hypothesis for saliency
detection. It is inspired by the biological model of spatial
receptive fields and the concept of local descriptor in the
field of computer vision. Specifically, the centre-surround
differences are estimated by LGOH, such as the gradient
location and orientation histogram (GLOH) [15], the
DAISY descriptor [16-17], the local binary pattern (LBP)
[18] and the Weber local descriptor (WLD) [19], etc. Note
that we do not strictly discuss the biological plausibility
of this hypothesis in cognitive neuroscience, instead
demonstrating by experiments its good performance,
enhancement of salient areas and suppression of non-
salient areas.

Compared with other saliency models, our model has the
following main contributions:
a) Inspired by the centre-surround pattern of biological
vision, we design a circular and multi-scale
hierarchical centre-surround profile for each pixel of
the primal image.
b) We extract the LGOH of the centre-surround region
to represent the centre-surround differences, and
use the statistic of LGOH as a decision value for the
local saliency analysis.
c) We proposed a new integration strategy for the local
and global saliency to get the final visual saliency
maps.

This paper is organized as follows. Section 2 describes the
proposed discriminant centre-surround hypothesis.
Section 3 discusses the local saliency analysis based on
LGOH, and gives a new integration strategy for the local
and global saliency. Section 4 shows some experimental
results and discussions. Finally, Section 5 presents our
conclusions and prospects.

2. The Proposed Centre-surround Hypothesis

The centre-surround hypothesis is an important
mechanism for almost all saliency models, whether they
are bio-inspired or pure computational. Its main function
is self-excitation in the central excitatory regions while
inhibiting in the surrounding regions [2]. L. Itti et al.
determined centre-surround contrast using a difference of
Gaussian (DoG) [1-2]. S. Frintrop et al. used a square filter
to compute centre-surround differences [20]. R. Achanta
et al. used a centre-surround feature distance [7]. A
frequency domain processing-based centre-surround
contrast estimation method was presented in [8].
Meanwhile, D. Gao et al. proposed a discriminant centre-
surround hypothesis by combining the hypothesis of
decision-theoretic optimality with the traditional
hypothesis. It maximized the mutual information
between the feature distributions of the central and
surrounding regions [10-11].

In this section, we present a simple but efficient
discriminant centre-surround hypothesis. We begin by
describing the structure of our centre-surround
organization and then discuss how to apply it to the local
saliency detection.
2.1 Circular and Multi-scale Hierarchical
Centre-surround Profile
Here, we are mainly inspired by two research
achievements in the field of cognitive neuroscience.

The first one is the compartmental model of the cone-H1
cell network, which had been used to simulate the
synergistic centre-surround receptive field of the monkey
H1 horizontal cells [21]. The simplified compartmental
2 Int. j. adv. robot. syst., 2013, Vol. 10, 385:2013 www.intechopen.com
model is shown in Figure 1, where the centre-surround
receptive field (the grey region) is organized by the
horizontal cell network. Each horizontal cell is modelled
as a soma represented by a sphere and connected to all of
the cones lying in a 120 μm diameter dendritic field.
Horizontal cells are connected to their nearest neighbours
with resistive gap junctions.

Figure 1. Illustration of the simplified compartmental model

The second one is the resolution hypothesis in the visual
attention mechanism [22]. Experimental evidence
suggests that the attention mechanism can actively
enhance the spatial resolution at the attended location.
Moreover, the attention dynamics can be demonstrated
by the processing of multiple spatial resolutions with a
visual search of hierarchical patterns.

Based on the aforementioned neuropsychological
evidence, we design a circular and multi-scale
hierarchical centre-surround profile by extending the
compartmental model to a multiple spatial resolution
model. The illustration of the proposed centre-surround
organization is shown in Figure 2.

Image plane
Dendritic
field
(a) structure of proposed
center-surround organization
(b) dendritic field of each
hypothetical H1 cell with
different radius
hypothetical
H1 cell array
Center-surround
region

Figure 2. Illustration of the proposed centre-surround
organization

The image plane can be regarded as the cone array in
Figure 1. Figure 2(a) shows the structure of the centre-
surround (the grey region) that is composed of N
concentric circles with different radii. There are M
hypothetical H1 cells (solid circular points) on each
concentric circle. The hypothetical H1 cells on different
concentric circles have different spatial resolutions.
Clearly, the hypothetical H1 cells on circles with a larger
radius have higher spatial resolution than those on circles
with a smaller radius. The range of the dendritic field of
each hypothetical H1 cell is illustrated by the identically
coloured circles in Figure 2(b).
2.2 Discriminant Centre-surround Hypothesis
for Local Saliency Detection
Based on the well-known fact that human the vision
system is sensitive to gradient magnitude and orientation,
we present a discriminant centre-surround hypothesis by
the statistical analysis of the LGOH. Firstly, we use the
DAISY descriptor to extract the dense LGOH of the
centre-surround region. Next, we propose the local
saliency decision by the variance analysis of the LGOH.

Let
0 0
( ( , , ))
m
l u v r
σ
H denote the normalized gradient
orientation histogram of the dendritic field connected
with the hypothetical H1 cell at
0 0
( , , )
m
l u v r , which is
the location of the mth hypothetical H1 cell on the
concentric circle with a radius r.
0 0
( , ) u v is the centre of
the concentric circle and σ is the Gaussian kernel scale
parameter of the concentric circle with the radius of r.
Therefore, the DAISY descriptor
0 0
( , ) u v D can be
formulated as follows:


( )
( )
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
1
1 1
2 2
0 0
T
0 0
T T
1 0 0 1 0 0 1
T T
1 0 0 2 0 0 2
T T
1 0 0 0 0
,
, ,
, , , , , , ,
= , , , , , , ,
, , , , , ,
N N
M
M
N M N
u v
u v
l u v r l u v r
l u v r l u v r
l u v r l u v r
σ
σ σ
σ σ
σ σ
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
D
H
H H
H H
H H




(1)

More details about the DAISY descriptor can be found in
the literature [16-17]. Here, we reorganize Equation (1) to
form our LGOH for the local saliency analysis.

Assume that K is the number of bins in the histogram.
0 0
( ( , , ), )
m k
h l u v r
σ
θ is the value of the kth bin in the
histogram
0 0
( ( , , ))
m
l u v r
σ
H . For conciseness, we denote
0 0
( ( , , ), )
m k
h l u v r
σ
θ as ( ( ), )
m k
h l r
σ
θ . Let
k
η be a
vector consisting of values of the kth bin of all histograms.
The LGOH of the centre-surround region L can be
formulated as follows:
3 Lili Lin and Wenhui Zhou: LGOH-based Discriminant Centre-Surround Saliency Detection
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( )
T
T T T
0 0 1 2
, , , ,
K
u v ( =
¸ ¸
L η η η  (2)
where:

( )
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
1
1 1
2 2
T
0 0
1 1 1
1 2 2
1
, , ,
, , , , ,
, , , , ,
, , , ,
N N
k
k M k
k k M k
N k M N k
h u v
h l r h l r
h l r h l r
h l r h l r
σ
σ σ
σ σ
σ σ
θ
θ θ
θ θ
θ θ
(
(
(
(
=
(
(
(
(
¸ ¸
η




(3)

According to the centre-surround mechanism, we suppose
there is statistically significant difference between the
responses of the central and surrounding regions at or near
the salient location. Similar statistical suppositions have
been discussed in many recent studies [7, 9, 11, 23]. To
propose the local saliency decision by the variance analysis
of the LGOH, we let
k
ν be the variance of the vector
k
η ;
as such, the local saliency decision
( )
0 0
,
local
S u v can be
defined as a linear combination of all
k
ν , i.e.:

( )
0 0
1
,
local k
k
S u v v
K
=
¿
(4)
and:

( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
( ) ( ) ( )
2
1 1
1 1
,
,
n
n
k m n k k n
n N m M
k m n k n
n N m M
v h l r h p
h h l r p
σ
σ
θ σ
θ σ
≤ ≤ ≤ ≤
≤ ≤ ≤ ≤
¦
= −
¦
´
= ¦
¹
¿ ¿
¿ ¿
(5)

where
k
h is the mean of vector
k
η and
( )
n
p σ is the
probability of the nth concentric circle, representing the
contribution of all hypothetical H1 cells on the nth
concentric circle to the whole centre-surround region.


( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
1 1
1 1 1
,
,
n
n
m n k
m M k K
n
m n k
n N m M k K
h l r
p
h l r
σ
σ
θ
σ
θ
≤ ≤ ≤ ≤
≤ ≤ ≤ ≤ ≤ ≤
=
¿ ¿
¿ ¿ ¿
(6)

3. The Whole Saliency Decision

This section introduces our integration strategy for the
local and global saliency. We first describe the workflow
of our complete saliency decision algorithm. Next, a
global saliency detection method is introduced. Finally, a
new integration strategy is discussed.
3.1 Workflow of our Saliency Decision
The whole process of the proposed saliency decision
algorithm is shown in Figure 3. First, the low-level colour
features are extracted. Since the perceptual differences in
the CIELAB colour space approximates to Euclidian space
[7, 24], we use the L*a*b* colour features.

Figure 3. Workflow of the proposed saliency detection algorithm

Next, we compute the local and global saliency of each
colour channel, respectively. Local saliency represents the
difference between a region and its surroundings. It can
be computed by Equation (4). However, it is not enough
to make decision only according to the local saliency,
because high local saliency values may lie in some global
texture regions, such as the skyline. So, it is necessary to
use global saliency to provide global constraints and
further reduce the effects of backgrounds.

Finally, we generate the final saliency map by a new
integration strategy for the local and global saliency.
3.2 Global Saliency Decision
We apply the method of SF [25] to extract the multi-scale
global saliency in each colour channel. Let
, 0 0
( , ), { , , }
c
global i
S u v c l a b ∈ be the global saliency of the
pixel located at
0 0
( , ) u v on scale i , where 1 6 i ≤ ≤ . The
first scale corresponds to the input image and the sixth
scale corresponds to the coarsest scale. Accordingly, the
global saliency of the pixel located at
0 0
( , ) u v in colour
channel c can be expressed as:


2
6
0 0 , 0 0
1
( , ) ( , )
c c
global global i
i
S u v S u v
=
| |
=
|
\ .
¿

(7)
4 Int. j. adv. robot. syst., 2013, Vol. 10, 385:2013 www.intechopen.com
3.3 Integration Strategy for Local and Global Saliency
The purpose of the integration strategy for local and
global saliency is to enhance the response of the local
contrast while inhibiting that of the background.
Therefore, we calculate the exponent of local saliency and
take the global saliency as a global constraint by using it
to weight the exponential local saliency. Thus, the
saliency in each colour channel can be expressed as:


0 0
( , )
0 0 0 0
( , ) ( , )
c
local
S u v c c
global
S u v S u v e = ⋅ (8)

where
( ) { }
0 0
, , , ,
c
local
S u v c l a b ∈ are calculated according
to Equation (4). Lastly, to get the final saliency map, we
combine the saliency maps of the l, a and b channels, as
follows:


2
0 0 0 0
{ , , }
( , ) ( , )
c
c l a b
S u v S u v

 
=
 
 
 (9)

Different from other combining strategies for local and
global saliency, ours is a soft-decision integration strategy.
As such, we do not perform a binary threshold operation
during the integration process. Figure 4 illustrates the
effects of our integration strategy for the local and global
saliency. Clearly, the final saliency maps weighted by

global saliency - shown in the fifth column - are much
better than all the local saliency maps shown in the
second through to the fourth columns.


Figure 4. From left to right are: input images, local saliency maps
of the l-channel, the a-channel and the b-channel, final weighted
saliency maps and ground truths, respectively

4. Experiments and Discussion

We evaluate our method on a commonly-used database
that includes 1,000 images and their ground truths [8].
We select 12 state-of-the-art methods for comparison,
namely: SF[25], LR[26], HC[27], RC[27], FT[8], AC[7],
CA[28], GB[29], IT[1], LC[30], SR[31] and MZ[32]. Some
visual comparison results are shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. From left to right are: input images, the ground truths and the final saliency maps of our method, SF[25], LR[26], RC[27],
HC[27], FT[8], CA[28] and AC[7], respectively
5 Lili Lin and Wenhui Zhou: LGOH-based Discriminant Centre-Surround Saliency Detection
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The original results of these 12 methods can be found at
http://users.eecs.northwestern.edu/~xsh835/LowRankSali
ency.html,
http://cg.cs.tsinghua.edu.cn/people/~cmm/saliency/ and
http://ivrgwww.epfl.ch/supplementary_material/RK_CV
PR09/.

Considering the computational cost, the proposed centre-
surround organization shown in Figure 2 should not be
too complex. So, we take the medium values and set N = 3,
M = 8 and K= 8. The binary threshold is 0.1 and the range
of the saliency value is [0, 1]. Due to the combination of
the local and global saliency decisions, our algorithm can
extract more exact salient regions and - preferably -
inhibit the saliency values at the non-salient regions.

In the following three subsections, we provide more
concrete comparisons in terms of precision-recall, F-
measure and mean absolute error (MAE).
4.1 Precision-recall Curve with Fixed Threshold
Precision and recall reflect the effectiveness and
completeness of the saliency detection, respectively. The
higher the recall ratio, the more complete the detected
salient object. It is well-known that there exists a trade-off
between precision and recall.

We first compare the precision-recall curves with a fixed
threshold, which takes a value within the range [0,255].
For each fixed threshold, a binary salient map is
generated from the saliency result and the corresponding
precision and recall are calculated. The precision-recall
curves are shown in Figure 6. Clearly, our method
outperforms the other 12 methods in most cases.
4.2 Precision-recall Bar Char with Adaptive Threshold
We set the adaptive threshold as twice the mean of all the
pixels’ saliency, i.e.:

1 1
2
( , )
w h
x y
Th S x y
w h
= =
=
×

(10)

where w and h are the width and height of the saliency
map S, respectively. The binary salient map is obtained
by comparing each pixel’s saliency with the adaptive
threshold. In the calculation of the F-measure, we use the
following equation:


2
2
(1 ) precision recall
F
precision recall
β
β
β
+ ×
=
+
(11)

where
2
=0.3 β . Next, we draw the precision-recall bar
chart with an adaptive threshold in Figure 7. Evidently,
the precision, recall and F-measure of our method are the
best among these methods.
4.3 Mean Absolute Error (MAE)
In the evaluation of the precision and recall, the selection
of the threshold has a higher impact on the evaluation
results. In particular, a different calculation method for
the adaptive threshold may cause different evaluation
results. From our viewpoint, it is difficult with the
precision-recall evaluation to reflect the algorithm
performance comprehensively. Furthermore, it is even
harder to evaluate the effects of uniform highlighting and
background inhibition.

The MAE estimates the approximation degree between
the continuous saliency map S and the ground truth GT,
which provides us with a new means of evaluation. We
calculate the MAE according to the following definition:


1 1
1
( , ) ( , )
w h
x y
MAE S x y GT x y
w h
= =
= −
×

(12)

where w and h are the width and height of the saliency
map S, respectively. The comparison results in Figure 8
show that the MAE value of our method is the lowest.
Figure 6. Evaluation of the precision and recall with a fixed threshold
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
Recall
P
r
e
c
i
s
i
o
n
Ours
SF
LR
RC
HC
FT
CA
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
Recall
P
r
e
c
i
s
i
o
n
Ours
AC
GB
IT
LC
MZ
SR
6 Int. j. adv. robot. syst., 2013, Vol. 10, 385:2013 www.intechopen.com

Figure 7. Evaluation of the precision, recall and F-measure with
adaptive threshold



Figure 8. Evaluation of the MAE

5. Conclusions

In this paper, a circular and multi-scale hierarchical
centre-surround profile is designed. Afterwards, a simple
but efficient discriminant centre-surround hypothesis and
a local saliency decision based on the variance analysis of
LGOH are presented. Finally, we discuss a soft-decision
integration strategy for the local and global saliency in
the CIELAB colour space.

Plenty of experiments have been done to verify the
effectiveness of our method. In addition to the final
saliency detection results, precision, recall and F-measure,
we also provide more objective evaluation by MAE. All
our experiments demonstrate that our algorithm can
produce more complete salient objects and that it has a
stronger response in salient regions and better inhibition
performance in non-salient regions.

Future work might focus on finding a more effective
integration strategy to inhibit the effects of the global
texture and backgrounds while enhancing the response of
the attention regions.
6. Acknowledgments

This work has been founded by the National Natural
Science Foundation of China (No. 60902077, No. 61102146)
and Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of
China (LY12F05004). The authors are grateful to the
anonymous reviewers who made constructive comments.

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