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Déjà vu: brain tricks, or predicting the future?

psychology science

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#1 Ghost in the Machine

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Posted 19 March 2018 - 05:07 PM

The Neuroscience of Déjà Vu
 
Déjà vu is a French term that literally means "already seen" and is reported to occur in 60-70% of people, most commonly between the ages of 15 and 25. The fact that déjà vu occurs so randomly and rapidly—and in individuals without a medical condition—makes it difficult to study, and why and how the phenomenon occurs is up to much speculation. Psychoanalysts may attribute it to wishful thinking; some psychiatrists cite mismatching in the brain causing us to mistake the present for the past. Still, parapsychologists may even believe it is related to a past-life experience. So what do we know for certain about what happens during an episode of déjà vu?
 
Some researchers speculate that déjà vu occurs when there is a mismatch in the brain during its constant attempt to create whole perceptions of our world with very limited input. Think about your memory: it only takes small bits of sensory information (a familiar smell, for instance) to bring forth a very detailed recollection. Déjà vu is suggested to be some sort of "mix-up" between sensory input and memory-recalling output. This vague theory, however, does not explain why the episode we experience is not necessarily from a true past event.
 
A different but related theory states that déjà vu is a fleeting malfunctioning between the long- and short-term circuits in the brain. Researchers postulate that the information we take in from our surroundings may "leak out" and incorrectly shortcut its way from short- to long-term memory, bypassing typical storage transfer mechanisms. When a new moment is experienced—which is currently in our short-term memory—it feels as though we're drawing upon some memory from our distant past.
 
A similar hypothesis suggests that déjà vu is an error in timing; while we perceive a moment, sensory information may simultaneously be re-routing its way to long-term storage, causing a delay and, perhaps, the unsettling feeling that we've experienced the moment before.
 
 
Researchers have a new explanation for one of the brain’s most uncanny peculiarities – the phenomenon of déjà vu. Presenting his team’s latest work at the recent International Conference on Memory in Budapest, Akira O’Connor from the University of St Andrews described how apparent glitches in the Matrix may in fact just be the brain fact-checking its own memory system.
 
According to New Scientist, O’Connor and his colleagues began by devising a technique to artificially trigger déjà vu. To achieve this, they presented study participants with a series of connected words, without revealing the one word that links them. For instance, in one trial the words bed, pillow, dream and night were all presented, yet the term sleep – which clearly connects all of these words – was omitted.
 
 
 

 


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Posted 19 March 2018 - 06:47 PM

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Posted 20 March 2018 - 01:34 AM

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