First and foremost, let’s try to explain the meaning of deja vu. Deja vu is a French term that can be translated as ‘already seen’. Have you ever felt like you’ve already experienced a new situation such as you’ve had the exact same conversation with someone before? Or experienced an unexpected feeling of familiarity despite being in a new place? This sensation of familiarity is what is called deja vu.
According to experts, the scientific explanation in not yet very clear. Many theories have been put forward to explain it, while some relates it to the paranormal such as a glimpse of memory of a past life or a premonition … Scientists have tried to unravel this mystery to find more rational explanations.
Many scientists agreed that deja vu is a memory-based experience and assume the memory centres of the brain are responsible for it.
Research on this phenomenon is divided into two main categories: observational studies and experimental studies. For observational studies, researchers observe which kind of people experience this feeling, how often it happens, when it happens, etc, subsequently results are observed and conclusions are drawn; the feeling of deja vu is seen more often in young people, in situations of fatigue or stress.
In experimental studies, scientists have attempted to bring on deja vu experiences in people to find out what causes it.
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What causes deja vu?
Just like the meaning of deja vu is hard to explain, what causes it is equally difficult to put into simple words, or rather, there are dozens of theories that attempt to explain it.
Some scientists say that deja vu is a memory phenomenon. When we find ourselves in a situation that is similar to an actual memory but we can’t fully recall that memory. Our brain recognizes the similarities between our current situation and the one that occurred in the past. This causes us to have a feeling of familiarity.
Another group of scientists describe it like a short in the circuits in our brain. This leads to long- versus short-term memory. In other words, new incoming information goes straight to long term memory instead of making a stop in the short-term memory bank.
According to a minority of scientists, false memories, memories that feel real but aren’t is what causes deja vu. This is similar to the feeling of dreams when you can’t differentiate between something that really happened versus a dream.
Some facts about deja vu ..
- If you experience the feeling of deja vu, it means you need more sleep
- It could be a sign of epilepsy, “Deja vu is commonly reported by patients with epilepsy”
- Deja vu is experienced equally by both men and women
- The older you get, the less likely you are to experience it
- The opposite of deja vu is jamais vu, or “never seen.” Jamais vu is a phenomenon wherein the banal may seem unfamiliar and is reported much less frequently than deja vu is.