Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Déjà Vu: A Glitch in the Matrix

Déjà Vu, translated from French literally as "already seen," is a common experience that most people can relate to. It is a feeling of extreme familiarity; as if you are doing something that you have already done before in the exact same way. It often comes with great clarity and an eerie feeling, but leaves you unable to remember what it was that you experienced. You feel unexplainably strange about what just occured. Because of the way that it makes you feel and because it can't be easily explained, many contribute Déjà Vu to paranormal or superstitious beliefs. Some believe that the feeling comes from a link with a past life, or a sort of remnant of reincarnation. Others believe that Déjà Vu is a type of psychic behavior, where an individual dreams of an event and then that event happens, thus making the event feel very familiar. Some even believe that Déjà Vu is caused by particles called tachyons which can move backwards in time!

So what then is the truth? Déjà Vu is a glitch. Just like in the popular movie series, The Matrix, where Trinity describes Déjà Vu as being a glitch in the matrix, Déjà Vu is actually just a glitch in your brain. The brain functions very much like a computer does. It is based in electrical signals, has short and long term memory, and is prone to error. Déjà Vu occurs from three different "brain glitches." The first is from the brain taking a small part of a sensory input and matching it to a part of a sensory input of something from your memory, making the present sensory stimuli feel as if it is a memory. Another is from a mismatch between the long term and short term memory pathways in your brain; the current stimuli, instead of being stored in short term memory and then transferred to long term memory (if needed) gets dumped straight in to long term memory, immediately causing that stimuli to feel as if it is an experience that you are pulling from your past. The last is an experience dubbed by psychoanalysts as wish fulfillment. The Déjà Vu experience is made to seem like a past experience, but with a more positive outcome. So, Déjà Vu is actually all in your head (literally), and you are not in fact a psychic. Disappointing, I know.


1 comment:

  1. I never really thought much about this, but it happens to me all the time. Good to know how things actually work to find out why it happens.