The science community first thought that the phenomenon known as Deja Vu occurred due to our brain making ‘false memories.’ Turns out, that’s just not the case.
Thanks to some pretty well-timed brain scans, we now know that when that recall hits us, it’s actually just our brain checking in on its memory database.
To trigger this random happening for testing, a team of researchers led by Akira O’Connor at St. Andrew’s University gave a human test subject a range of related words, like ‘apple’, ‘grape’, ‘orange’ – but excluded the key phrase linking them all together, which would be ‘fruit’.
In order to manifest deja vu, O’Connor asked the subjects if they remembering hearing any words beginning with ‘f’ – which they claimed they hadn’t.
Later when quizzed on the words they heard, the key word fruit is included. Though the subjects haven’t heard the word, they feel like they have. This is deja vu.
The researchers then stuck 21 volunteers in a MRI scanner during this state of false remembrance. A common perception is that the hippocampus which is the memory holding portion of the brain would be active. Not so much, it was the frontal lobe that lit up – the part of our brain that controls decision-making.
O’Connor and his team believe the reason for this has to do with our brain working on a kind of conflict resolution, since it assumes there is something wrong with our memory.
‘A conflict between what we’ve actually experienced and what we think we’ve experienced.’ writes New Scientist.
Loaded staff writer Danielle De La Bastide has lived all over the planet and written for BuzzFeed, Thought Catalog as well as print publications throughout the Caribbean.