Déjà Vu Explained

A confused man walks down a sidewalk.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.

That Looks Familiar.

Have you ever been sitting in a place looking at a specific thing and thinking that you’ve experienced that exact moment before? I know I have. That sensation is known as déjà vu, which in the French language translates to already seen. Feeling that way for the first time can be a little overwhelming, but nothing is wrong with it. It’s actually quite common. Anywhere between 60 and 80 percent of the population has experienced this sensation.

What causes déjà vu?

Because déjà vu happens so quickly and without warning, it has made it difficult for researchers to find a cause. The only explanation widely accepted is that sensation is related to memory in some way.

The temporal lobe of the brain stores memory and helps us recognize that we have experienced something before. Researchers believe there is a connection between déjà vu experiences and memories stored in the temporal area.

Researchers created an experiment to test that connection involved virtual reality scenarios based on the video game Sims. They designed a series of scenarios where the participants went through similar scenes, and many people had sensations of déjà vu.

Although most think the phenomenon helps predict the future, the experiment did not find any participants were more likely to guess the correct path or select accurate answers during the VR scenarios.

Is it harmful?

Usually, there is no negative cause behind instances of déjà vu, but it can happen before or during epileptic seizures.

Focal seizures are the primary form of seizure that may occur with the déjà vu sensation. Focal seizures are very short, lasting from a few seconds to one or two minutes. There is no loss of consciousness, but you may not be able to react, so it looks as if you are zoned out or lost in thought.

Although déjà vu occurs before a focal seizure, you may experience other symptoms such as twitching, hallucinations, repeated involuntary movements, or an unexplainable rush of emotions.

If you have experienced these symptoms more than once a month, please visit a healthcare provider to rule out any other causes.

Want to learn more about how the brain works? Read how scientists used Brain Signals to Help a Paralyzed Man Communicate.

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About Kayla Gonzalez

Kayla Gonzalez is a graduate of Texas A&M University and joined the Empower Brokerage marketing team in early 2021. She creates content for the company websites and assists with various marketing campaigns. LinkedIn Profile

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