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Deja Vu: recreated in laboratory

edited July 2006 in Consciousness
Deja vu 'recreated in laboratory'


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Scientists believe they have found a way to probe the mysterious phenomenon of feeling you have witnessed something before - deja vu.


Leeds Memory Group researchers say they have gone some way to recreating the sensation in the lab using hypnosis.

New Scientist magazine reports the researchers hope their work will shed light on the fundamental workings of the human memory.

It is estimated that as many as 97% of people have experienced deja vu.

In some severe cases it can be distressing to the point of causing depression and some sufferers have been prescribed anti-psychotic medication.

However, experts suspect that many people who experience the sensation are unwilling to discuss it with their doctor.


Two stage process

Two key processes are thought to occur when someone recognises a familiar object or scene.

First, the brain searches through memory traces to see if the contents of that scene have been observed before.

If they have, a separate part of the brain then identifies the scene or object as being familiar.

In deja vu, this second process may occur by mistake, so that a feeling of familiarity is triggered by a novel object or scene.

The Leeds team set out to create a sense of deja vu among volunteers in a lab.

They used hypnosis to trigger only the second part of the recognition process - hoping to create a sense of familiarity about something a person had not seen before.

The researchers showed volunteers 24 common words, then hypnotised them and told them that when they were next presented with a word in a red frame, they would feel that the word was familiar, although they would not know when they last saw it.

Green frames would make them think that the word belonged to the original list of 24.



Peculiar sensation

After being taken out of hypnosis, the volunteers were presented with a series of words in frames of various colours, including some that were not in the original 24 and which were framed in red or green.

Of the 18 people studied so far, 10 reported a peculiar sensation when they saw new words in red frames and five said it definitely felt like deja vu.

Researcher Akira O'Connor presented the findings to an International Conference on Memory in Sydney, Australia.

He told New Scientist: "This tells us that it is possible to experimentally dissociate these two processes, which is really important in establishing that they are indeed separate."

Some people with temporal lobe epilepsy report frequent deja vu.

And previous work in France has found that electrically stimulating parts of the temporal lobe can trigger a sensation of familiarity with everything a person encounters.

Professor Alan Brown, an expert in deja vu at South Methodist University in Dallas, said: "Using hypnotic suggestion to either stimulate, or simulate, a deja vu experience could potentially be a very fruitful way to explore this phenomenon.

"I don't have a lot of detail about the Leeds project but from what I know it certainly seems to be solid work with an intriguing outcome."



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Comments

  • edited July 2006
    On friday night I had a dream in which I encountered a speciic person, the other figures in the dream were the usual self extensions but this female stood out. She was so different in tone that, unusual for me, I noted and remembered specifics of her appearance.
    Last night, monday, she turned up on my doorstep in a state of severe distress. I talked with her for about five hours and at least did more good than harm...I wonder what will happen next?
    It may be an anecdote to everyone else, but it is hard evidence to me...my hypothesis?
    Weird shit happens

    I just remembered this Hunter S Thompson quote...'When the going gets weird, the weird get going'
    A call to arms?
  • edited July 2006
    Mr.What? your snippet of a story is begging for more detail... Sounds very Phil K. Dickian.

    imageThe weirdest thing my brain ever did to me (except when under the influence) was to convince me, both emotionally and physically, that I was a small cuboid with 6 concave faces. This sensation, of a rather all encompassing variety, used to completely overwhelm me on the brink of unconsciousness as I lay pondering the universe in my bed. It hasn't happened for several years, and all those people I have told about it have only managed to let out a barrage of nervous giggles before changing the subject. Good job I didn't mention the voices too ;-)

    I suppose this fits better with the dreams discussion recently started on this forum, but, as per usual, Mr.What?'s abstract, brief response got me thinking...
  • Small cuboid with 6 concave faces? Man, this is weird! hahahaha
    Nice article about deja vu and hypnosis.
    Our brains are great. I´d love to use mine better hahahahahhaah
  • I've wondered about this image, sounds a bit like an omnidirectional radio telescope.
  • I know it's the weekend and all ye young buggers are out on the piss...half your luck!
    I've come from thinking about the egg stuff, now it occurs to me that Dan's Yantra sounds like an inverted egg.
    As usual, to change the subject, my new mad neighbour from dreams and doorsteps, lives in a permanent state of self inflicted severe distress. She'll be right at home here at Clyde Road.
    One anecdote to give you the drift...a few years ago I walked out on to my second floor balcony to see my transvestite junkie exconvict neighbour hanging by her fingertips from the fourth floor balcony opposite. Before I could move, she fell, her fat mad girlfriend screaming and clutching empty air...they had been having a fight of course. Anyway, her feet hit the balcony rail below, she turns upside down and flies headfirst into the ground. I don't see her hit, she's behind a fence. I ring emergency then come back out a few seconds later.
    A groan issues from behind the fence... then I hear, 'Where's me fuckin' cigarettes'...she couldn't move but wanted a smoke. Fifteen minuits later the paramedics have her on a stretcher in the courtyard below. There are detectives, uniforms, parameds, drunks, the stoned...everybody, standing around, all talking at once. There is a lull in the hubbub and you hear the attending paramedic say, 'I'm going to give you something for the pain'...I swear, everyone burst out laughing.
    She survived, couple of broken ribs and some organ squashing.
    Lucid dreaming? I just want lucid waking.
  • gotta hang out the washing, work work work
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