Why does deja vu happen

Deja vu – that fascinating feeling when you visit a place for the very first time, only to feel that it is strangely familiar to you. Perhaps you have even had conversations where you suddenly stop, feeling certain that you have said and heard these exact same words before-despite being certain that you actually haven’t. These are prime examples of deja vu, and the experience is fairly common, in terms of its happenings and its common usage in the everyday lexicon. It is reckoned that as many as 70% of us have experienced feelings of deja vu at least once in our lives, and, believe it or not, there are almost 50 different theories as to what causes deja vu and what exactly it is, ranging from reincarnation to problems in our memory recall process. The term itself is French, and translates literally as ‘already seen’, with the name ascribed to the condition in 1876 by Emile Boirac, a French scientist.

There are numerous references to deja vu that don’t truly qualify in the truest sense. Researchers believe that among the main misuses of the term relates to precognitive experiences, where a person begins to feel that they know precisely what will happen next-and it subsequently happens. The difference with deja vu is that it is felt during the event itself, not prior to it. If precognitive experiences are verifiable, they are detailing events that will occur at some future time, not events and things that have already been experienced. Some conditions can be confused with deja vu – especially those that induce a heightened state-such as hallucinations. Also, false memories induce by schizophrenia can also be confused with deja vu. One big distinction is that true deja vu lasts between 10 to 30 seconds in typical cases, whereas false memories or hallucinations generally last much longer.

Some people believe that the experience of deja vu is the experience of people and events from past lives merging into their current lives, while others attempt to recall past dreams that may have detailed the present. Such notions and beliefs are impossible to either prove or disprove, as the belief is past lives is a matter of faith. Dreams are less connected with faith, as many more people remember their dreams than past lives.

In scientific terms, the frontal lobes of our brains are seen as being concerned with the future, while the temporal lobes are concerned with the past and the underlying portions (known as the limbic system) are generally seen as concerned with the present. When these are all functioning normally and while in normal states of consciousness the uncomfortable feeling that “something” may happen will only come up when we are actively thinking about the future, worrying about it what may be, anticipating some unknown event or making plans for it. The sense of the past and our interpretation of it will only come up when our memories have also been triggered in some way.

Sometimes, we can experience over-communication between our short and long-term memories, and, in such instances, the present can seem like the past. When our perceptions from our present are pushed through the sections of the brain that ordinarily deal with past memories, these perceptions will seem to us as though they are memories, and we may feel as though we are re-living moments stored in our long-term memory.