For the past several years, scientists have been publishing papers claiming to have discovered what a déjà vu truly is.
One paper was published in 2008, a “report by Colorado State University psychologist Anne M. Cleary, published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science,” according to Psychological Science. If you’d like to read what they had to say, click this link.
“Déjà vu was thought to be caused by the brain making false memories, but research by Akira O’Connor at the University of St Andrews, UK, and his team now suggests this is wrong. Exactly how déjà vu works has long been a mystery, partly because its fleeting and unpredictable nature makes it difficult to study. To get around this, O’Connor and his colleagues developed a way to trigger the sensation of déjà vu in the lab.
The team’s technique uses a standard method to trigger false memories. It involves telling a person a list of related words – such as bed, pillow, night, dream – but not the key word linking them together, in this case, sleep. When the person is later quizzed on the words they’ve heard, they tend to believe they have also heard “sleep” – a false memory.
To create the feeling of déjà vu, O’ Connor’s team first asked people if they had heard any words beginning with the letter “s”. The volunteers replied that they hadn’t. This meant that when they were later asked if they had heard the word sleep, they were able to remember that they couldn’t have, but at the same time, the word felt familiar. “They report having this strange experience of déjà vu,” says O’Connor.
His team used fMRI to scan the brains of 21 volunteers while they experienced this triggered déjà vu. We might expect that areas of the brain involved in memories, such as the hippocampus, would be active during this phenomenon, but this wasn’t the case. O’Connor’s team found that the frontal areas of the brain that are involved in decision making were active instead.”
Only problem is, that is not a déjà vu at all: simply feeling that a word is familiar is not even close to déjà vu. Anyone who has experienced it understands that it is a profound, intense feeling of familiarity.
It is exact, identical familiarity to something that has either not happened yet, or happened in the person’s dreams. Several of these studies conflate familiarity and other less intense feelings with déjà vu.
One powerful form of déjà vu is when a person dreams something, and then the exact scene they dreamt happens in real life.
I’ve personally experienced it, and it is absolutely not explainable by this genre of scientific study that is currently happening. Those scientists would be hard-pressed to tell me how I dreamt a park in California that I have never before seen in my life when I was 11 years old, only to actually see the scene in real life, exactly how I dreamt it, at age 17.
Scientists might suggest that I’ve seen a similiar looking scene previously in my life, and it reminded me of that, but I know for sure that is not the case. I have dreamt exact scenes that I saw, completely identical, for the first time several years later.
To me, that is a very special thing: it’s evidence of some higher function of consciousness and time, evidence that is not contrived because I didn’t search for it, it just came to me. I don’t know what it means now, but it means one thing for sure: there are functions of time and memory that we are completely unaware of.
Besides, I don’t think those scientists are the people meant to determine what a déjà vu means.
I don’t think any person or entity is destined to definitively identify what it is, to feed their alleged findings to us: and that would make it contrived.
I believe a déjà vu is a special thing, and it archetypally represents a special kind of concept in life: unexplainable phenomena that gets us thinking about the very nature of life and this existence.