Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford
Have you ever experienced Déjà vu?
Have you ever had a feeling or a mysterious sense that you had met someone before, lived a particular day before, or was at a place you are sure you have never been before? If you have felt any of the things I have described, you more than likely experienced déjà vu. Déjà vu is characterized by a brief sensation, lasting no more than 10 to 30 seconds, but 96 percent of the population insists they have experienced this been there before, relived experience on at least one occurrence. As indicated by its name Déjà vu, is a French term meaning already seen. Persons with seizure disorders are more likely than others to endorse feelings of déjà vu, i.e., a familiar smell, taste in the mouth, tactile sensations, etc., before they experience a seizure. However, these feelings prior to having a seizure aren’t déjà vu, rather they are considered an “aura of a seizure”, meaning what they are experiencing is indicative that they are about to experience a seizure. There is a strong and consistent link between déjà vu and the seizures that occur in people with medial temporal lobe epilepsy, a type of epilepsy that affects the brain's hippocampus.
Prior research conducted on déjà vu found when we experience new scenes that were similar to previously experienced scenes we were more likely to get that been there, did this before feeling. The reason for this feeling can be attributed to spatial layout similarities which we associate to a “remembrance” of being somewhere we feel we have been but are certain we have never been before. One of the reasons one might experience an intense feeling of déjà vu includes a contrast between the sense of newness and the simultaneous sense of oldness, i.e., something unfamiliar should not feel familiar. The feeling of déjà vu typically boils down to misplaced familiarity. When thinking of déjà vu consider it in terms of the “past” in the present. Ask yourself are you really experiencing something again or are your “memories” being triggered by a familiar shape, smell, visual spacing, taste, etc. Taking a mental inventory usually disrupts the feeling of déjà vu as we must now confront the discrepancies of what seems familiar but never experienced before.
Here are a Few Reasons You Might Be Experiencing Déjà vu?
You have been somewhere similar in the past, but not at that particular place. Many theorists believe déjà vu is triggered when you enter an environment similar to one you've experienced in the past, i.e., passing by a home that looks similarly to the one he or she grew up in.
Possibly related to a seizure disorder. People with a seizure disorder often experience an “aura” related to the seizure that can be confused for déjà vu.
Constant travel. People that travel a lot are more likely to “experience” déjà vu at a higher rate than someone that does not travel often. People that travel often will most likely experience the “been here before” feeling as a result of similar spatial layouts they have seen in the past.