What Exactly Is Deja Vu?
“Déjà vu” describes that uncanny sensation that you’ve already experienced a thing, even when you know you never have.
Say you decide to go paddle boarding for the very first time. You have never done anything like that before, but you suddenly have a clear memory of making similar arm motions, under the similar blue sky, with the same types of waves lapping at your feet.
Or perhaps you are exploring a new town for the first time, and all of a sudden, you feel as if you have walked down that exact flower-lined footpath before.
It is often nothing to worry too much about. Although déjà vu may accompany seizures in folks with temporal lobe epilepsy, it also happens in people without any health problems.
There’s no clear evidence on how common it is, but several estimates suggest anywhere around 70 percent of the population experience this occurrence.
While déjà vu is mildly common, especially among young folks, experts have not identified any cause.
Experts do, though, have a few theories about the most likely causes.
So, What Causes Déjà Vu?
Researchers cannot easily study déjà vu, partly because it happens without any warning and often in folks without underlying health concerns that might play some parts.
What is more, déjà vu experiences tend to halt as quickly as they begin? The sensation may be very fleeting that if one does not know much about this déjà vu, one may not even realize what has just happened. You might just feel a bit unsettled but quickly sweep off the experience.
Experts suggest some different causes of déjà vu. Most suggest it likely relates to memory in many ways. Listed below are among the more widely accepted theories;
The theory of split perception claims déjà vu happens when you see a particular thing two different times.
The first time you see a thing, you might just take it in out of your eye corner or while distracted.
Your brain can begin processing memory of what you see even with the partial amount of information you get from a short, incomplete glance. So, you might eventually take in more than you realize.
If your first view about something, like that from a hillside, didn’t involve your full attention, you might believe you are just seeing it for the first time.
Also, since you may not give the experience your full attention the first time it went into your perception, it feels like two separate events. But it is just one continued insight of the same event.
Minor Brain Circuit Malfunctions
In other words, it may happen as a sort of mix-up when a part of your brain that keeps a record of present events and the part of the brain that brings back memories are both active.
This type of brain malfunction generally isn’t a cause for concern unless it happens frequently.
Some experts believe that another type of brain disorder may trigger déjà vu.
When your brain takes in information, it often follows a specific path ranging from short-term memory storage down to long-term memory storage. The theory claims that, sometimes, short-term memories can take some shortcuts to long-term memory storage.
This may, no doubt, cause you to feel as if you are retrieving a long-ago remembrance rather than something that happened in the past second.
Another Theory Explains Delayed Processing
One of these paths gets the information to the brain a little more quickly than the other. This delay may be highly insignificant as time goes, but it still causes your brain to read this single occasion as two different experiences.
What Befalls Your Brain When You Have Déjà Vu?
Let us now into what your brain might be passing through during this strange occurrence;
Things May Have Become Out Of Sync In Your Brain
Although those two pathways mentioned above usually work harmoniously, they can also stop working. “Sometimes they tend to be ‘out of sync’,.” The ‘fast’ pathway responds quickly, and the ‘slow’ pathway only responds fractions of a second later. It is, although an infinitesimal slowdown, it means your memory cannot determine whether the scenario has happened before or not.
This is termed a mismatch, and it explains why an event that has never occurred can apply as it has. Networks of the frontal cortex and temporal lobe ‘interpret’ this mismatch, and we feel this as a memory playing out in actual time, which makes it appear as if we are ‘re-experiencing’ a new event. A 2013 study in Frontiers in Psychology found that déjà vu comes from a memory conflict in the brain, and the feeling lingers while the brain tries to find out what is real memory and what is not.
You may be Experiencing The “Tuning Fork” Phenomenon
If you are like Fox Mulder on the X-Files, and you have the belief in the existence of more than a universe, you may desire to consider that your déjà vu is a result of a thing called the tuning fork phenomenon. “This tuning fork phenomenon relates to when a person’s frequencies of mind temporarily match the frequencies of other living people’s minds of or subtle bodies in the afterlife,” according to the Spiritual Research Foundation.
You are Assuredly On The Right Path In Life
Life throws a bunch of stuff at a wall and sees what sticks, and you might not often be sure you are on the right path. According to a written blog by Radhika Mehrotra on Speaking Tree, the feeling of déjà vu might be your brain’s way of informing you that you are heading on the right path. It is information from your higher self informing you to keep going. Again, there is yet no scientific evidence for this, but it is a nice thought should you need some reassurance.
Could Be A Sign Of Epilepsy
While a little déjà vu now and then is very rampant, getting it a lot can be signaling that something is awry. “Déjà vu is often reported by folks with epilepsy,” Hafeez tells Bustle. For folks with the disorder, déjà vu can be triggered by focal seizures, which occur in minute parts of the brain and can induce disorienting experiences and feelings, like tasting a portion of food that is not in your mouth. If it happens often or is accompanied by other symptoms such as problems with your vision, or abnormal visual experiences, motor operations like facial or mouth movements, you can inquire about your feeling with your medical doctor,” Hafeez says.
Your Memory Is Correcting Itself
One of the major reasons folks experience déjà vu is due to what is called memory mismatch, according to a 2013 published study in Frontiers in Neuroscience. The researchers note that brain regions linked with memory conflict might trigger déjà vu and explains memory conflict as the deliberate awareness of a discrepancy in memory signals being amended. The hippocampus, based on this theory, produces déjà vu because you remember an event slightly incorrectly.
You Need More Sleep
If you have been joking on sleep and are having more feeling of déjà vu than is normal for you, your brain may likely be telling you to get more shut-eye. Exhaustion, stress, and traveling a lot can all trigger the more frequent occurrence of déjà vu. It’s not known why stress might make you get déjà vu more often, but the stress-strain might make your brain more prone to misfire or make mistakes.
The Bottom Line
Déjà vu explains that uncanny sensation that you have already experienced something, even when you never have.
Experts generally believe this phenomenon probably links to memory in some way. So, should you have déjà vu, you may have experienced a related event before. You just may not remember it.
If it just occurs once in a while, you may not need to worry about it (although it can feel a bit strange). But you may notice it more if you are lethargic or under some stress.