To understand the meaning of a sentence, humans can focus on important words in the sentence, which reflects our eyes staying on each word in different gaze time or times. Thus, some studies utilize eye-tracking values to optimize the attention mechanism in deep learning models. But these studies lack to explain the rationality of this approach. Whether the attention mechanism possesses this feature of human reading needs to be explored.
The authors conducted experiments on a sentiment classification task. Firstly, they obtained eye-tracking values from two open-source eye-tracking corpora to describe the feature of human reading. Then, the machine attention values of each sentence were learned from a sentiment classification model. Finally, a comparison was conducted to analyze machine attention values and eye-tracking values.
Through experiments, the authors found the attention mechanism can focus on important words, such as adjectives, adverbs and sentiment words, which are valuable for judging the sentiment of sentences on the sentiment classification task. It possesses the feature of human reading, focusing on important words in sentences when reading. Due to the insufficient learning of the attention mechanism, some words are wrongly focused. The eye-tracking values can help the attention mechanism correct this error and improve the model performance.
Our research not only provides a reasonable explanation for the study of using eye-tracking values to optimize the attention mechanism but also provides new inspiration for the interpretability of attention mechanism.
This work is supported by Open Fund Project of Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory of Information Processing and Intelligent Control (Minjiang University) (No. MJUKF–IPIC201903).
Zhao, L., Zhang, Y. and Zhang, C. (2023), "Does attention mechanism possess the feature of human reading? A perspective of sentiment classification task", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 75 No. 1, pp. 20-43. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-12-2021-0385
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