Science & Technology
Is there a scientific explanation for deja vu ?
By T.K. Randall
April 1, 2020 · 24 comments
Deja vu can be a disorienting experience. Image Credit: YouTube / Samsung Schweiz
Most of us will have experienced deja vu at some point in our lives, but what exactly causes this sensation ?
Ever walked into a room for the first time and had that uncanny feeling that you've been there before ?
Over the years there have been numerous unofficial explanations for deja vu ranging from a "glitch in the Matrix" to recalling an experience from a past life, but is there an official scientific answer ?
A number of studies have attempted to recreate deja vu on demand under laboratory conditions, including one in 2006 led by the Leeds Memory Group which used hypnosis to create simple memories which were then forgotten and then later remembered through certain triggers.
More recently, virtual reality has been used to trigger a feeling of uncertain familiarity by exposing volunteers to virtual game worlds with identical layouts but different textures and scenery.
The most common explanation of deja vu is that it is a memory phenomenon that is triggered when a person links an experience with an existing memory that is very similar but doesn't quite match.
In one study however, when Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) was used to scan the brains of 21 volunteers while they were experiencing deja vu, the findings suggested that it was the part of the brain involved in decision making rather than memory that was most active.
This could mean that what we perceive as deja vu is actually our brain trying to cope with the conflict between what we actually experienced and what we think we experienced.
Source: Scientific American
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