Scientists are closer to understanding the mystery of déjà vu thanks to new virtual reality research

Have you ever had this strange feeling I faced the exact same situation before, although this is impossible? Sometimes it can feel like you’re looking back on something that already happened. This phenomenon , Known as déjà vubaffled philosophers, Neurologists And the the book to very long time.

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, Many theories began to emerge Regarding what might cause déjà vu, which means “already seen” in French. People think that it might be caused by a mental glitch or maybe some kind of brain problem. Or perhaps it was a temporary hiccup in the natural process of human memory. But the topic did not reach the world of science until very recently.

Moving from the paranormal to the scientific

Early in this millennium, a scientist named Alan Brown decided to conduct A review of everything researchers have written about déjà vu up to that point. Much of what he could find had a supernatural flavour, relating to the supernatural – things like past lives or psychic abilities. But he also found studies that surveyed laypeople about their experiences with déjà vu. From all of these papers, Brown was able to draw some basic conclusions about the phenomenon of déjà vu.

For example, Brown determined that nearly two-thirds of people experience déjà vu at some point in their lives. He determined that the most common trigger for déjà vu is scene or place, and that the next most common trigger is conversation. He also spoke of hints over a century or so from the medical literature about a possible link between déjà vu and some types of seizure activity in the brain.

Brown’s review brought the topic of déjà vu into the more mainstream world of science, because it has appeared in both the scientific journals that scientists who study cognition tend to read, as well as in a book aimed at scientists. His work served as a catalyst for scientists to design experiments to investigate déjà vu.

déjà vu test in psychology lab

Building on Brown’s work, my research team began conducting experiments aimed at testing hypotheses about the possible mechanisms of déjà vu. we He investigated a nearly century-old hypothesis The proposed déjà vu can occur when there is a spatial analogy between a current scene and an unprecedented scene in your memory. Psychologists have called this the Gestalt knowledge hypothesis.

For example, imagine that you are passing the nursing center of a hospital unit on your way to visit a sick friend. Even though you have never been to this hospital before, you are amazed at the feeling you get. The reason behind this experience of déjà vu may be that the layout of the scene, including the placement of furniture and specific objects within the space, has the same layout of a different scene that you have experienced in the past.

Perhaps the way the nursing station is located—the furniture, the things on the counter, the way it connects to the corners of the hallway—is the same way a set of welcome tables were arranged relative to the signs and furniture in the hallway at the entrance to a school event I attended a year earlier. According to the Gestalt knowledge hypothesis, if a previous situation with a layout similar to the current one does not come to mind, you may be left with a strong sense of familiarity with the current situation.

To investigate this idea in the lab, my team used virtual reality to place people inside scenes. In this way we can manipulate the environments in which people find themselves – some scenes share the same spatial layout while being distinct otherwise. as expected, déjà vu . was likely to happen When people were in a scene that had the same spatial arrangement of items as a previous scene they saw but did not remember.

This research suggests that a contributing factor to déjà vu could be the spatial similarity of a new scene to a scene in memory that is not consciously brought to mind at the moment. However, this does not mean that spatial similarity is the only reason for déjà vu. It is very likely that many factors contribute to making the scene or situation familiar. More research is underway to investigate possible additional factors that play a role in this mysterious phenomenon.

This article has been republished from Conversation Under a Creative Commons License. Read the original article.

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