Just had a little Deja Vu? What is Deja Vu? The Deja Vu experiments

It's like Deja-Vu, all over again

Recall the men in black with shiny black goggles from one of the biggest movie hits of all time. Wait, I am not talking about the spooky duo from the Men in Black movie. I am talking about the sci-fi star Neo starring Keanu Reeves in the movie Matrix. 

In a scene that displays Neo walking up the stairs, he looks at a black cat passing along the hallway. Yet again, he witnesses the same cat passing along the hallway. You can watch the scene from here

Does the same scene resonate with you? How spooky it is to relive the same experience twice! Deja Vu is a blow to the people who dictate that no experiences can be the same!

Well, the question now arises,

Can 2 experiences ever be the same?

What is Deja Vu?

Carrie Ann Moss, known as Trinity in the movie, calls it a glitch in the matrix. If you are a computer guy, you can don't need an explanation for the glitch. This is why you keep getting IOS updates on your Apple. 

A French Philosopher and Researcher, Emile Boirac, coined the word Deja Vu in French in 1876, which means "already seen". 

Is Deja Vu paranormal?

Yes, it is! If you are experiencing Deja Vu, it simply means you need asylum in Shutter Island. I am just kidding. 

Most of us face this weird phenomenon which surprisingly has no explanation for why and how it happens. A BBC report states that 97% of the people have experienced Deja Vu. 

How Deja Vu works?

You cannot even attempt to understand Deja Vu without even comprehending how a brain works. There are a lot of theories that revolve around the why of Deja Vu. 

You are watching an episode, and all of a sudden, you feel an eerie sensation of having watched the show already, some time ago, even though the show is brand new. 

This is not an uncommon phenomenon. Don't worry, I am coming to it.

Leeds Memory Group in 2006 had tried to recreate Deja Vu in a laboratory through hypnosis. Identifying a scene is a two-step process. At first, the brain scans for familiarity. This helps the brain to recognize any objects or instances of events that had already happened before. 

Next, the brain actually identifies the object and sends you a signal that this experience is familiar. Remember, as a kid, when you used to express, 

"Wow! the electrons in an atom are like the planets around the sun!"

Is the brain a foolproof machine?

Probably not! What if your brain skips the first step? This is what formed the basis of the hypnosis experiment performed by the group. 

Why does Deja Vu happen?

Akiro O' Connor, a senior lecturer at the University of St Andrews, conducted an experiment once on Deja Vu. His experiment involved telling volunteers a list of words that were related. Take an example. 





After a while, his team asks people if they have heard any word, which has 's' as the initial letter. Now here's the surprising part. 

The volunteers also claim to have heard the word sleep. They simply could not believe that this word was not on the list. O Connor calls it Deja Vu.

Though the theory is complex, I will simplify it for you. 

After going through the results of MRI scans, the team concluded that the Hippocampus did not play any role here. The frontal lobe of the brain lighted up, which indicated that the decision-making system is active during Deja Vu. Why? 

The reason is that your brain, as usual, performs a memory check. It works hard to find the basis of the eerie feeling of familiarity that you experience. 

In the earlier experiment, the Leeds group had shown the volunteers a list of 24 words, after which they hypnotized the volunteers. 

Each volunteer was asked to feel familiar whenever they were shown a word, in a red frame (though they do not know when they last saw it). Also, if they see the green frames, they should immediately conclude that the word belonged to the original list.

After snapping back out of hypnosis, the volunteers were shown a list of words (new and original) in frames including green and red. Most of the participants experienced Deja Vu when they were presented with red frames. 

What's with the your temporal lobe?

The temporal lobe is one of the four lobes of the human brain. It is the second-largest lobe that sits behind your ears. It is responsible for creating both long-term and short-term memory. 

What is Deja Vu?

Those suffering from temporary lobe epilepsy have reported experiencing Deja Vu right before the seizure. Since Deja Vu is related to memory, temporal lobe problems can lead to Deja Vu.

Scientists have reported that, whenever your brain, instead of storing a piece of information in short-term memory, throws that information straight away as long-term, you experience this phenomenon of familiarity.

Now you have probably got your answer if your brain is a foolproof machine!

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