(Why do we experience Deja vu or Déjà vu?) What is it exactly? Why does it occur? Why does the current situation feel like it has happened before? We don’t know how and when it became so familiar. It’s difficult to scientifically explain this phenomenon because there is no reliable way to make it happen with people’s mind in the laboratory.
Humans don’t seem to experience deja vu until they are 8-9 years old. It’s more common in your teens and twenties and then tapers off as you get older. So, it might have something to do with brain development.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s begin with the visual system in the brain: Why do we experience deja vu-
The Science behind Deja vu and Why do we experience Deja vu
Our visual cortex is situated in the back of our skull. The visual information coming from the eyes passes here, through which we can see. People who are blind cannot see due to their damaged visual cortex. But the other preliminary parts of their brain is perfectly active. Through them they can avoid various obstacles in their way on the ground. And accordingly, they respond to certain emotions.
So, what happens is, there occurs a situation in the brain where the sync between the visual cortex and the other preliminary parts of brain is broken. That is, we experience the situation first and then the same situation is seen by our cortex. So, we perceive things as same, or that the thing might have happened with us in the past.
The Dramatic Elements of the Story
Along with déjà vu, there exist many other phenomena also known as the hypnogogic jerk. It happens when we are about to fall asleep, and all of a sudden we feel that our body is falling, or we can trip, so our body jolts itself awake. This is because our muscles tend to relax when we fall asleep. But some part of our brain still remains awake. So, it gets a sensation that we are no longer supported and are falling. It starts sending huge signals which cause our muscles to twitch, thereby waking us up.
Along with this, déjà vu is not the only ‘vu’ that’s out there. There occurs many other like Presque vu, in which we are familiar with something, we know that we know it but at that very moment we are unable to recall it.
Why do we experience deja vu: This occurs because when we are trying to remember something, our brain functions in a way that it only helps us to recall words that are close to the target word and blocks other information, along with the target word.
Another ‘vu’ is Jamais vu. It’s like something with which we are familiar, all of a sudden becomes bizarre and brand new. It can be experienced by repeating a word over and over again. The word starts to lose its meaning and we start getting a feeling that how is it even a word, it’s so weird. Scientists believe this happens, because continuing to excite the neurons of the same word, causes them to become inhibited.
Though many parapsychologists still believe that their is some connection to past-life experiences for deja vu, there’s yet more investigation to go.
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