Déjà vu: have you really already seen it?


Most everyone has experienced deja vu in their lifetime. It is the strong sensation one gets when they feel as if an event has already occurred. But how is that possible?

I did a research paper on deja vu for my high school psych class. The term literally means "already seen" in French. Deja vu comes in three forms: deja vecu (already experienced), deja senti (already felt), and deja visite (already visited). There are many different, and some quite unbelievable, explanations for this phenomena including "an anomaly of memory," an overlap of the short-term and long-term system in the brain, serious medical disorders (ex. schizophrenia), reincarnation, and my personal favorite, loopholes in the universe. The explanation I am going to concentrate on, though, is what I believe to be the most likely, the anomaly of memory "giving the false impression that an experience is 'being recalled.'"


brain .jpgIn most of my experiences of deja vu the recollection has been strong, almost undeniable, that I have been in such situation before. The sensation is there, but the what, when, and where of the "previous" experience is unclear to me. Think about how much the human brain processes in one day. Every thought, every action is possible because of our magnificent brains. Clearly, the human brain is extraordinary, but could it be that every once in a while our brains make a mistake? It is only human. This theory suggests that the brain may process the senses (sight,feel,smell, etc.) and falsely categorizes them as a past memory, "yet it is only a memory-in-progress, which is how the brain perceives life." So maybe, at the rapid speed the brain processes information it gets confused and believes theses experiences to be in the past when really they are present. We recognize the event has happened before, but our brains literally forget when, therefor we are left wondering.


This feeling is one that is one of the most frustrating things for me. I found it very interesting that there are three different kinds of deja vu. Scientifically this must be the most frustrating topic to study since it is so hard to get hard data on it, and even if they could you would have to somehow be there as soon as the person experiences it. This would mean the only way to study it would be to ask people to write down their experience when it happens.

I have deja vu sensations all of the time, so I found this blog post quite interesting. Sometimes, however, I don't only experience deja vu in real life, but also in dreams. I've had dreams from when I was four repeat again when I was fourteen! Also, sometimes my dreams become muddled with reality. I have memories in my head that I'm not sure are actual memories, or just dreams. I wonder why this happens? It seems like a pretty cool topic to explore in future blogs.

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