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Experts say: deja vu is normal

17 June 2018, 09:00

Many people know the state of deja vu - the feeling that a similar situation has already occurred before. Scientists are interested in whether there is anything mysterious and mysterious in this phenomenon. As a result, an expert in cognitive psychology, Ann Cleary, developed a technique capable of awakening a deja vu in a person.

In spite of the fact that deja vu is a widespread phenomenon, up to now no one has been able to answer for what reasons and how it develops. Lovers of mysticism and mysteries massively "promote" their theory: say, deja vu - these are original memories from past lives, signs of parallel worlds, or simply matrix violations. Scientists did not pay attention to such assumptions, but focused on how the brain can process information withdrawn from memory.

Most likely, deja vu is the result of a slowing of communication between individual parts of the brain. This leads to the fact that the current situation is "fixed" in the brain twice in an accelerated sequence. It may well be that a person perceives an event faster than usual, bypassing short-term memory: thus, the picture goes straight to long-term memory. An additional factor may be that memorial information is checked by brain structures twice to avoid erroneous reproduction.
Dr. Ann Cleary, representing the University of Colorado, for several years studied this issue. He holds the opinion that deja vu becomes an ordinary cognitive error. For example, a person experiences a situation that is similar to something that has already happened before. However, he can not consciously reproduce this in memory. The brain perceives this episode as something familiar.

In a new project, Cleary and his colleagues tried to provoke a state of deja vu from volunteers. The scientists used the Sims simulator program, in which they formed a series of virtual scenes spatially similar one to the other. However, the difference was still present - in the overall design. The participants were provided with virtual reality glasses, after which they were each "put" to the listed similar scenes, not related thematically. As a result, volunteers reported deja vu already at the entrance to the first similar scene (although in fact they had not previously visited it).

"A person can not consciously recall a familiar situation, but the brain immediately reveals a similarity," explains Cleary. "The received data cause an anxious feeling in a person: he seems to have been here before, but is not in a position to determine how and under what circumstances it happened."

In the next test, experts tested the possibility of "foresight", which is directly related to deja vu. Volunteers were asked to undergo virtual labyrinths, which again had a spatial similarity. As it turned out, every second participant reported any anticipation, but such abilities reflected the usual guessing.

The scientists concluded: deja vu makes us feel like predictors of the future, but in reality it is not.

All stages of the study are described in the pages of Psychological Science (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0956797617743018)

Last reviewed by: Aleksey Portnov , medical expert, on 23.06.2018
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