I Feel Like I've Read This Before

By: Haley Higginbotham

Why I Chose This Topic

I chose déjà vu as my topic because I know the very basic meaning of déjà vu but I don't know what happens in the brain to cause this phenomena. I have sensations of déjà vu fairly often and would like to know if that is normal or not.

Déjà Vu

Déjà vu in French translates to "already seen," which is highly applicable since déjà vu is the strong sensation that you have already experienced an event that is currently happening. A survey conducted in 2004 found that two-thirds of the population have had a déjà vu experience. Research has suggested déjà vu may be a form of familiarity based recognition, meaning you may feel like you have experienced the event before simply because its familiar. There is also a dream based explanation, where a person dreams about a similar situation or place and not remembering until they are reminded of it by a similar situation or place.

Effect on The Brain

Robert Efron proposed in 1963 that déjà vu is caused by dual neurological processing which is caused by delayed signals in the brain. The brain normally sorts incoming signals in just the left hemisphere, however, some signals enter the temporal lobe twice before processing, once for each hemisphere, with a slight delay between the signals. Efron proposed that if the two signals were not synchronized properly they could be processed as two separate experiences, with the second time seeming to be a reliving of the first, causing the sensation of déjà vu.

Research Conducted

A study using virtual technology supported the idea that déjà vu is a form of familiarity based recognition. The investigation suggested that similarity between a new scene and a previously experienced scene in memory (which is not recalled properly) may contribute to the déjà vu feeling. Even when the previous scene fails to come to mind, it still exerts an effect, the effect being the feeling of familiarity with the new scene and voilà-you have déjà vu!

Interesting Facts

  • There is theory that parallel universes might be connected to déjà vu. Dr. Kaku believes déjà vu occurs when you flip between universes, and with quantum mechanics this theory could be possible.
  • Some people believe that déjà vu is more spiritual, and a déjà vu feeling is actually a premonition or a way to see the future.
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