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Developing Research On Deja Vu

Developing Research On Deja Vu

It’s a glitch in the system. It’s an experience felt by about two-thirds of the population. That inexplicable, creepy, been here before feeling. It’s déjà vu.


Because we can’t neurologically trace déjà vu, most of the literature about it has a supernatural explanation. Yet scientists have been interested in finding the root of the strange sensation for the average person in the last century. There are theories, but no substantive explanation.


One hypothesis dates back a century. According to Anne Cleary a professor of cognitive psychology at Colorado State University, “déjà vu can happen when there’s a special resemblance between a current scene and an unrecalled scene in your memory.”-

This is considered “dual processing” where there is a glitch between processing the current input and finding resemblances to old semi-forgotten inputs. A glitch between the memory function’s cross-referencing. This theory rests largely on some data that suggests a déjà vu is often triggered by spatial familiarity. For example, entering a room and the placement of furniture echoes a memory of a room that was arranged similarly.


Anne Cleary’s work has been able to support this although more research is needed. Putting participants in virtual reality (The Sims), scientists were able to manipulate the space to be somewhat familiar or entirely new. Cleary puts forth, “Déjà vu was more likely to happen when people were in a scene that contained the same spatial arrangement of elements as an earlier scene, they viewed but didn’t recall.”


Cleary also found in her work that even in experiences where the participant feels convicted that they can predict what happens next, they can’t. Her work has found that déjà vu may be related to memory failure when you know who sings a song, but the artist is “on the tip of your tongue.” Or even more so when someone can confidently sing a song in karaoke, but not at all without the backup music and lyric prompts.


Or it’s the Matrix.

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