Monday, August 16, 2010

déjà vu

"Remembering is mental time travel, a sort of reliving of something that happened in the past." (Endel Tulving)

There is something about this tunnel that compels me to philosophize about time travel. And, appropriately, one of my gal pals had déjà vu at dinner on Saturday night, prompting me to expound briefly on the possible scientific explanations I had read about (oddly enough, I had also experienced déjà vu the last time I saw one of these girls out of context [aka out of college]).

dé·jà vu \ˌdā-ˌzhä-ˈvü, -ˈvue\: any subjectively inappropriate impression of familiarity of the present experience with an undefined past.

This article from New York Times Magazine is specifically about the rare disorder déjà vécu (basically, persistent déjà vu), but it mentions Alan Brown's book "The Déjà Vu Experience" and his four broad categories of possible scientific explanation.

1. dual-processing: if one brain process is recording a memory and a glitch in the temporal lobe causes another brain process to start playing the memory back simultaneously, it could feel like a memory.

2. neurological: if the brain perceives an event, and two electrical signals go to the brain but one is delayed, when it reaches its destination an unsettling familiarity might result.

3. memory: if the brain recognizes something (object, person, place, etc.) from a similar situation in the past, it could cause a momentary eerie familiarity (personally, I don't think this is a likely explanation).

4. double perception: if the brain is momentarily distracted after "recording" part of an experience, it could potentially feel as if the moment is repeating itself when it returns to the scene a fraction of a second later.

4. double perception: if the brain is momentarily distracted after "recording" part of an experience, it could potentially feel as if the moment is repeating itself when it returns to the scene a fraction of a second later.

Haha! Did you catch that? I crack myself up. I also read somewhere that it could be caused by one eye blinking a fraction of a second before the other (sort of a minor twitch or seizure) and recording the memory before the other eye could record it a second time. Anyway, I think all of these weird common experiences we have are pretty fascinating, even though I can't believe that the experience is in any way related to previous lives or prophecy. I'm not scientifically-inclined enough to delve much deeper into the neurological possibilities... anyone else have any crazy theories??

(dress: Goodwill; slipdress: UO; sweater: cedar chest; necklace: F21; crystal beads: Grammy Flood; boots: Seychelles)

5 comments:

  1. I've had deja vu a few times, gets worse as I'm older. Sometimes I wonder if I'm remembering something from a dream?

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  2. i really love this dress! i can only remember a few times where i have had really strong deja vu and it freaked me out.

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  3. I get deja vu fairly often. I really love it. It's such a weird and neat feeling. This was such an interesting post, especially since I'm a psych major. I'm definitely going to read that article you linked to! It sounds fascinating. :)

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