Deja Vu All Over Again!
"The Deja vu Enigma:
Doing It Again for the Very
Jones and Larry Flaxman
(From the Introduction)*
It comes on without warning. It can happen
at any time, in any place, with any one. Suddenly, you get that
eerie feeling of "I've been here before." Yet, you are certain that this is the
first time you have ever set foot in such a place. Maybe you are in the midst of
a conversation, and realize that you have spoken those very same words before,
to the very same person now standing before you. But there is no possible way
you could have.
Deja vu anyone?
French for "already seen," Deja vu is one of the
most widely reported, yet least understood, anomalies of the mind. Theories run
the gamut from a neural glitch, to a brain slip, to a glimpse into a parallel
world, to a backwards memory of something happening in the present instead of
the past. But how could you remember something happening ... now? Yet
that is exactly what Deja vu appears to be -- the memory of something that is
happening in the present moment.
The most common theories into Deja vu involve the brain
and memory. The latter part of the 20th century has led to some
serious scientific study of the phenomenon as an anomaly of memory recall. To
validate this explanation, researchers point to the fact that the "sense" of
recollection of a Deja vu is actually stronger than the actual details of the
recalled event itself. It is this "sensing" that the focus is placed upon. Some
people, studies claim, actually will go on to have Deja vu of past deja vus!
While this sounds incredible, the emphasis here is on a
glitch in the brain's short term memory processing. This software "bug" in our
brain's programming gives an almost precognitive feel to the experience, like we
are getting a peek into the future. Perhaps there is an overlap between the
neurological systems responsible for short-term memory and those responsible for
In 1955, American-born Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder
Penfield conducted his now famous experiments stimulating the temporal lobes of
the study participants with electrical charges. Penfield, a pioneer in research
into the human mind, found that only approximately 8% of the participants
experienced such Deja vu type "memories" afterwards.
More current research by such noted scientists as
Chris Moulin, a psychologist in the
Dept. at the
University of Leeds
and his former PhD student Akira O'Connor (now at Washington University in St.
Louis, Missouri) has pointed to the use of hypnosis to trigger Deja vu
experiences in subjects, as well as a connection with the temporal lobe.
Interestingly, many people with temporal lobe epilepsy do report more frequent
Deja vu, leading O'Connor to posit that Deja vu may actually originate in this
part of the brain.
But you don't have to have a temporal lobe disorder to
experience Deja vu. In a December 2008 report published by Current Directions in
Psychological Science, researchers from
studied the parallels between Deja vu and theories of human recognition memory.
Headed by Anne Cleary, the research team's findings suggest that Deja vu occurs
when a current situation resembles a situation that has previously occurred in
one's life. A sort of "situational overlap" leads to the feeling of
Not everyone agrees that Deja vu is an anomaly of the
memory, or even some kind of simple brain slip-up. Some suggest that Deja vu is
a doorway, or rather, a peek inside the keyhole of a door that leads to other
worlds. Or perhaps a fleeting vision of a past life ... or even a parallel life
in another dimension, another universe.
The mind is still a mystery, and the way that memory is
stored and recalled still eludes complete explanation. Deja vu is one of many
anomalies of the mind, memory and time that continues to fascinate both
scientists and paranormal enthusiasts alike, both of which see clues to their
own pet theories in a phenomenon that occurs with more frequency than any other.
* This excerpt
reprinted by permission of the publishers, Bear & Co. Copyright C 2010 by Marie
D. Jones and Larry Flaxman, All Rights Reserved!
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