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Deja Vu Recreated in a Lab Setting 331

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the haven't-i-given-you-funding-before dept.
esocid writes writes to tell us BBC News is reporting that scientists may have found a way to study deja vu, that uneasy feeling you have seen something before. Using hypnosis, scientists claim to be able to incorrectly trigger the portion of the brain responsible for recognition of something familiar. From the article: "Two key processes are thought to occur when someone recognizes a familiar object or scene. First, the brain searches through memory traces to see if the contents of that scene have been observed before. If they have, a separate part of the brain then identifies the scene or object as being familiar. In deja vu, this second process may occur by mistake, so that a feeling of familiarity is triggered by a novel object or scene."
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Deja Vu Recreated in a Lab Setting

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  • Dupe! (Score:5, Funny)

    by taxman_10m (41083) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @01:45PM (#15785543)
    I've seen this story before.
    • Re:Dupe! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've seen your comment before!
      • Re:Dupe! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by orangesquid (79734) <orangesquid@NosPAM.yahoo.com> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @04:08PM (#15786578) Homepage Journal
        "novel object or scene" -- not really! Sometimes when seeing something that I know I haven't seen before I will feel that it's familiar, and sometimes when in a place I know I've never visited before I will feel that I have been there, but what's much much stronger in effect is the sensation I sometimes get when there's a sequence of events or thoughts. I'll have a sensation that "the things from the last few minutes... have happened before!" and the sensation will stick for a while. Maybe it's just more profound because it's more closely tied to internal processes than simple sensory input? I often will be lying on my bed, waiting to fall asleep, and thinking, and I'll think that I've had this exact same train of thought before---not something similar, but identical. Or, I'll be having a conversation on AIM, and I'll think the conversation has happened identically before.

        Maybe by 'object' they mean 'anything tangible' and 'scene' is 'any temporal thought process', but, it sounds like they're studying simple recognition of items, and that's never been half the mindfuck of things that are temporally extended. Maybe it's "recognition in the mind's eye" tied to the recognition-circuitry somehow re-triggering itself repeatedly? (Maybe thinking "I'm having deja vu" will make it more likely for the feeling to continue? Suggestion and association?)

        The end of the article does mention things about the temporal lobe... maybe future research will go in this direction (I'm very curious to see)

        I think I've posted this comment before... ;)
        • by Ayanami Rei (621112) * <rayanami@NOSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @06:20PM (#15787264) Journal
          What you'll come to find out (through multiple experiences) is that the deja-vu, when it happens, doesn't have a defined cue to attach itself to.
          For some reason the seen-before-search area gets triggered and it happens without context.
          So whatever you were thinking about (the last 3 minutes of conversation, a scene that occured, a song you were trying to remember) will seem familiar overall.

          But as soon as you conciously try to pick it apart or take each piece in context, the feeling goes away.

          Usually the sensation is triggered by external stimuli that arrive in the brain with a time skew that prevents them from being correlated. This triggers the seen-before paths but since it isn't memory-retrieval the sensation is not attached to the stimuli but whatever you are currently thinking or focusing on. :-/
    • Re:Dupe! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Trigun (685027)
      No you haven't, you just think that you did.
    • Ok kids, who saw that one coming?
    • by Kelson (129150) * on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @02:07PM (#15785737) Homepage Journal
      Tonight on "It's the Mind [orangecow.org]", we examine the phenomenon of déjà vu. That strange feeling we sometimes get that we've lived... through something before, that what is happening now has... already... happened?

      *runs*
    • This must mean that the /. has made a modifcation to the underlying code...does that mean that Agent Smith is coming???
    • by suffe (72090)
      "My name is Deja Vu. Have we met before?"
      • Re:Dupe! (Score:4, Funny)

        by Sancho (17056) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @03:00PM (#15786136) Homepage
        I'm not the first guy who fell in love with a woman that he met at a restaurant who turned out to be the daughter of a kidnapped scientist only to lose her to her childhood lover who she last saw on a deserted island who then turned out fifteen years later to be the leader of the French underground.
    • Re:Dupe! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Stavr0 (35032)
      Ok, let's be honest... How many of us came in here just to make that exact same joke?
      • Re:Dupe! (Score:2, Funny)

        by Bugs42 (788576)
        *raises hand sheepishly* Figures y'all'd beat me to it. Aw hell, one more can't hurt - Deja Moo: The feeling you've heard this bull before.
  • Dupe!!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @01:45PM (#15785551) Journal
    Oh wait... Never mind. My bad.
  • And here all this time I thought that persistent recurrent deja vu was an indication of my latent psychic powers.
  • Good to know! Now maybe they can get to work on those other trifling brain disorders like Alzheimer's, Mad Cow disease--you know the minor ones that don't mean anything.
    • by 2nd Post! (213333) <(ten.llebcap) (ta) (raebdnug)> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @01:51PM (#15785614) Homepage
      Research is research. Understanding how the brain works is vital in progressing the state of the art. We will only be able to find a cure for Alzheimer's or MCD by pure luck unless we also happen to have a decent understanding of how the brain works. Science is not at all directed, as most people imagine, but much more like evolution; a hundred million different approaches all aiming for different goals, filtered through successful applications, and then repeated all over again.

      Who knows but maybe the cure to Alzheimer's is FOUND because we understand how the brain triggers recall, which is touched upon when deja vu is wrongly invoked?
      • Actually deja vu isn't recall, it's familiarity (two distinct processes in the brain). But it definitely is true that Alzheimer's starts in the hippocampus, which is nestled in and intricately connected with the medial temporal lobe, which is very likely where deja vu occurs, and so the two are at least somewhat related.
      • MCD

        MCD ... McD's...

        Coincidence, I think not
    • Are you an engineer or marketing guy, or aspiring to be one? No more useless extra knowledge please!
    • Re:Great news! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @01:53PM (#15785630) Homepage

      Good to know! Now maybe they can get to work on those other trifling brain disorders like Alzheimer's, Mad Cow disease--you know the minor ones that don't mean anything.

      Actually, deja vu--along with similar phenomena like presque vu and jamais vu--is a major part of senility. Studying it could lead to a better understanding of getting soft in the head in general.

      If you like science fiction, Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, specifically the volume Blue Mars [amazon.com] has these symptoms of senility as a major plot point. It's a sort of fate that might await us all as lifespans grow increasingly longer.

      • If you like science fiction, Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, specifically the volume Blue Mars has these symptoms of senility as a major plot point. It's a sort of fate that might await us all as lifespans grow increasingly longer.

        Also, if you like computers, you might want to read Dan Brown's Digital Fortress. And if you are interested in spice, you might want to pickup the Dune series. Other completely off topic book recommendations include...
        • Have you actually read Blue Mars? It explains the whole issue of how senility affects consciousness, including the very on-topic matter of deja vu, in a way that is interesting for the average nerd here to read. I could recommend articles from psychology or neurology journals, but what fun would that be?

      • They are also major signs that the person is experiencing a simple partial seizure caused by temporal lobe epilepsy. TLE is well associated with both mysticism and artistic talent and is not just a sign of senility.

        Even people without TLE can have deja vu. About 70% of the population claims to have experienced deja vu at some point in their life.
    • Good to know! Now maybe they can get to work on those other trifling brain disorders like Alzheimer's, Mad Cow disease--you know the minor ones that don't mean anything.

      Yes, and by learning seemingly stupid and trivial things like this, it ultimately will pave the way towards a greater understanding of the brain that will allow them to eventually figure out how and why those disorders affect people.

      "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Confucius

  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @01:46PM (#15785564)
    Scientists have officially ran out of things to study
    • Re:It's Official (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2nd Post! (213333)
      I do hope you're joking and not serious. Being able to understand how something works (like the brain) as well as how it works incorrectly (like deja vu) is pretty important in figuring out how to fix it when something really breaks (like Alzheimer's or dementia or psychosis).
  • by cliveholloway (132299) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @01:47PM (#15785566) Homepage Journal
    All that work - and all they had to do was read Slashdot headlines for a few weeks.

    *rimshot*
  • This is deja vu (Score:2, Insightful)

    by palindromic (451110)
    all over again..

    Seriously though, as soon as I read the line "using hypnosis in a laboratory" the plausible-interest part of my brain shut off and my eyes glazed over. Recreate THAT in a laboratory.
    • Re:This is deja vu (Score:3, Informative)

      by Almonday (564768)
      Yeah, my eyes glazed similarly, but then it occurred to me that so long as there's someone with a big honking imaging device collecting data about brain states, the form of whatever external stimulus they choose to use doesn't matter so much. One doesn't need to be a fan of transcendental meditation to demonstrate that its practice causes physical changes in the brain, nor to record and draw certain, albeit tenative conclusions from said data. I'm not sure if these folks are actually doing that or just co
    • Hypnoscience (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Attaturk (695988) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @02:16PM (#15785813) Homepage
      Seriously though, as soon as I read the line "using hypnosis in a laboratory" the plausible-interest part of my brain shut off and my eyes glazed over. Recreate THAT in a laboratory.

      My thoughts exactly. Since when did data gathered from hynposis or 'hypnotised' patients make its way into the lab? Even hypnotists admit that the discipline involves suggestion. Subjects' responses are usually compatible with the expectations of those around them - the data is tainted. Find a biochemical way of triggering a neurological deja-vu response and I'm interested.

      From the article:
      The Leeds team set out to create a sense of deja vu among volunteers in a lab.
      They used hypnosis to trigger only the second part of the recognition process - hoping to create a sense of familiarity about something a person had not seen before.
      The researchers showed volunteers 24 common words, then hypnotised them and told them that when they were next presented with a word in a red frame, they would feel that the word was familiar, although they would not know when they last saw it.
      Green frames would make them think that the word belonged to the original list of 24.
      After being taken out of hypnosis, the volunteers were presented with a series of words in frames of various colours, including some that were not in the original 24 and which were framed in red or green.
      Of the 18 people studied so far, 10 reported a peculiar sensation when they saw new words in red frames and five said it definitely felt like deja vu.


      I suppose science - or at least its standards - must have changed a lot since I was in school.

  • Forget Deja Vu, we must study Vuja De. The strange feeling that somehow, none of this has ever happened before. That one REALLY creeps me out.

    Much love to George Carlin
  • by mistake? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by astanley218 (302943)
    I read once a while back that deja vu was caused by the brain processing visual data from one eye marginally faster than from the other. This seems like a logical theory to me, but I am not a neurologist. Has anyone else heard of this?
    • Wiki [wikipedia.org] mentions that theory.
    • I read once a while back that deja vu was caused by the brain processing visual data from one eye marginally faster than from the other. This seems like a logical theory to me, but I am not a neurologist. Has anyone else heard of this?

      If that were true, wouldn't I be able to trigger deja vu by closing my eyes, and then opening one before the other one?
      • The brain is probably smart enough to figure that one out. Think of it as ghosting on the TV...you have one image and the reflection of the same one, just very slighly behind.
    • Re:by mistake? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Znork (31774) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @02:25PM (#15785881)
      Apparently, blind people also experience deja vu, which makes the theory unlikely.

      I dont quite see the need to go to complicated explanations for deja vu; the human brain is one huge neural network, false positives and random matches should be expected. Without a certain fuzziness in temporal recognition, we'd be unable to ever recognize any repetetive event as every repeat would cause slightly differing levels of synaptic activation, depending on the totality of sensory input and internal state.

      The amazing thing is rather that it functions as well as it does, minimizing both false positives and negatives, although perhaps erring a bit more on the negative side for the average person.
  • Deja Vu Recreated in a Lab Setting

    Want to test an experimental interface for comments?


    nuff said...
  • by phorm (591458) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @01:53PM (#15785635) Journal
    I'll just wait until my victims are in front of the billboard advertising McDonalds burgers and then blow them into kibbles. A few well placed meaty chunkss and perhaps a little arterial spray near the picture of some dude chomping on a burger should add to the overall effect of the ad, no?
  • When I was much younger, I used to experiment with certain substances.

    One particular substance always made it seem like things had happened before - like I was experiencing something in real life that I had dreamt about before and it was very weird/scary. I'm guessing that it was causing the portion of my brain responsible for identifying familiar things to trigger (as mentioned in the article).
  • To demonstrate...

    "Using hypnosis, scientists..."

    I rest my case.
    • Hypnosis is not completely useless as a scientific tool, but I gotta agree with you here. FTA:

      The researchers showed volunteers 24 common words, then hypnotised them and told them that when they were next presented with a word in a red frame, they would feel that the word was familiar, although they would not know when they last saw it...Of the 18 people studied so far, 10 reported a peculiar sensation when they saw new words in red frames and five said it definitely felt like deja vu.

      This sounds badly bli

    • To demonstrate...

      "Using hypnosis, scientists..."

      I rest my case.

      Hypnosis and its use in understanding the brain are not unscientific. As with anything in science, there is the potential for drawing unscientific conclusions about hypnosis based on assumption or faulty reasoning, but one should not dismiss hypnosis based on some people's misrepresentation of its scope and capabilities. Stage hypnosis is not the same as clinical hypnosis. It is known that electrical impulses fire at certain frequencies durin

  • Why bother recreating deja vu in the laboratory? Are they too cheap to pay the cover charge [dejavu.com]?
  • by Biff Stu (654099) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @02:03PM (#15785702)
    They needed to reproduce their results!
  • This was previously reported by another British group here: . [ibras.dk]
  • The claim here is that the sensation of Deja Vu is the same sensation as our everyday recognizing-something-familiar sense. The thing is, Deja Vu is that 'weird', 'erie' feeling that you get when you see something you think you have seen before. I don't get that same weird, erie feeling when I wake up in my familiar room, or hop into my familiar car.

    Maybe the model could be modified a little. In my understanding, the feeling of Deja Vu is its own feeling, not the regular, everyday familiarity feeling.
    • In my understanding, the feeling of Deja Vu is its own feeling, not the regular, everyday familiarity feeling.

      The strange "feeling" of Deja Vu is simply due to experiencing familiarity when you believe there should be none. There is nothing strange about being in a familiar environment. It's when something seems familiar and you know it should not, that there is an extra feeling that comes along with it.

      Personally, I had an experience where some friends and I were riding our bikes through some trails and

      • "The strange "feeling" of Deja Vu is simply due to experiencing familiarity when you believe there should be none. There is nothing strange about being in a familiar environment. It's when something seems familiar and you know it should not, that there is an extra feeling that comes along with it."

        You've just identified a mechanism that isn't accounted for in the model. How does the mind know that there shouldn't be any familiarity? Besides the memory-scanning mechanism and the feeling-of-familiary-generat
  • I wonder... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vishbar (862440) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @02:09PM (#15785750)
    if something like this could be used to help one who suffers from social anxiety? According to TFA, the part of the brain that triggers deja vu is responsible for one feeling "familiar" with their environment. Maybe something like this could be used to cure the "jitters" from an unfamiliar social situation or a first date?
  • Possible explanation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MarkByers (770551) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @02:10PM (#15785763) Homepage Journal
    I read once that deja vu can occur when the messages from each eye are handled by the brain out of synchronisation. First the image from one eye is processed, processed and stored in the brain, then a millisecond or so later, the brain starts to process the image from the other idea, and finds that it has already an exact copy of the same image in memory. You then get a sudden and very powerful feeling of having already seen the location before, because you just have seen it a millisecond ago!

    Usually the brain is able to pair up the two images as being the same, but an occasional glitch can happen. Taking drugs or being tired might increase the chance of these glitches. Of course it would be possible to test this theory (it is falsifiable, unlike most other theories for deja vu) by seeing if people with only one eye get deja vu as frequently as people with two eyes.

    I have no evidence that this theory is true, but it sounds plausible and I think the truth could be close to this explanation.
  • ... how will we know when the Agents change something???

  • Hypnosis? A sample size of 18 people with only 10 experiencing the feeling? They haven't created anything but much ado about nothing.

    Wake me when 38 people out of 40 experience it without any persuasion.

  • Technically, no post on this article should be "Redundant."
  • Trying to resist the urge to make yet another bad Deja Vu joke, I offer up this question: Has anyone ever had something like Deja Vu, but where they feel familiarity of an event or situation, not from a memory of real life, but that it occurred in a dream that they can't quite remember? I get this sometimes, and it's much creepier (IMHO).
    • Not really, but I have experienced even creepier things where I'm in a situation where I don't feel any deja vu, but I know that in a second I will, and then a few moments later I do get the deja vu feeling. What the hell is up with that?
    • Trying to resist the urge to make yet another bad Deja Vu joke, I offer up this question: Has anyone ever had something like Deja Vu, but where they feel familiarity of an event or situation, not from a memory of real life, but that it occurred in a dream that they can't quite remember? I get this sometimes, and it's much creepier (IMHO).

      Yes, Paul, we've all had that feeling. Try laying off the spice.

  • Scientists knew the basics of Deja Vu, including how to stimulate it electrically, back in 1959 (Mullan) [google.com].
  • One of the things that's unnerving about deja vu is that it reminds you that your perceptual systems are not perfect. What is reality is not necessarily what you perceive. Go have a look at this: http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akitaoka/index-e.html [ritsumei.ac.jp]. Your mind doesn't always register and record exactly what you're seeing.

    Fortunately, deja vu can be (and is) being explained by science. I hope we don't get an influx of pseudoscientific theories like we did with the recent telepathy/esp article...

  • by wsanders (114993) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @02:25PM (#15785879) Homepage
    Just the other day...

    > Jul 25 04:11:11 blah UDBH Syndrome 0xb6 Memory Module Board 3 J3801
    > Jul 25 04:11:11 blah SUNW,UltraSPARC-II: [ID 436398 kern.info] [AFT0] errID 0x000a3f92.c551de55 ECC Data Bit 30 was in error and corrected
    > Jul 25 04:11:11 blah SUNW,UltraSPARC-II: [ID 858871 kern.info] [AFT0] errID 0x000a3f92.c551de55 Corrected Memory Error on Board 3 J3801 is Persistent
    > Jul 25 04:11:11 blah SUNW,UltraSPARC-II: [ID 888460 kern.info] [AFT0] Corrected Memory Error detected by CPU10, errID 0x000a3f92.c551de55

    As the hardware gets older these errors become more frequent. Leftover form the dot-com boom days, they can be safely ignored, and one just keeps on drinking.
  • Deja Vu is nothing.

    It's generating a redundant loop that's the fun part.

    "Wait, I rememeber this... and this... and this... and this..."
  • One explanation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ManoSinistra (983539) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @02:31PM (#15785923) Homepage
    One very good explanation for Deja Vu that I learned in my college psychology class was this:

    When you see something normally, data is sent to and stored in your brain's hippocampus. However, on some occasions for reasons unknown, your hippocampus "mis-fires" and stores the memory and recalls it at the same time. In most if not all cases, you have not seen what you saw before, but rather it appears so because your brain stored and recalled the memory at the same time.

    Eh.. for what it's worth...
  • Bull (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eno2001 (527078) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @02:39PM (#15785981) Homepage Journal
    Everyone knows that dejavu goes beyond just a simple object but can cover hours of experience. Not only that, but if you've ever experienced it you can completely recount everything that is going to happen just before it happens. I don't think it's psychic though. I think it has something to do with your consciousness readjusting to a timeline shift. Considering that the metaverse is made up of an infinite number of universes that take every possibility into account and our consciousnesses are just reading through the data in a non-linear fashion, it's easy to see how a slight difference in one timeline can result in a little synchronization problem when you jump from one line to another. Don't believe me? Try it yourself. Focus on one particular small aspect of your reality and think of how it could be slightly different. With some practice you can control your read through the metaverse timelines and forcibly jump from one to the next. The article and the research commented on therein is either a misunderstanding on the part of the researchers or deliberate obfuscation to keep a larger part of the population from controlling their timeline reads. Now... off to Tralfamador to spend a little time with Montana Wildhack. Rowr!!!
    • It's also been described as a short circuit between short-term-store (the sort of memory used to get the phone number from the book to the keypad) and long term memory. That's a description and block-diagram explanation, but it's nice to see that they can control it and get beyond this understanding.
  • by CODiNE (27417)
    Naw man... it's cuz I've been there in a past life.

    Really... these "scientists" sometimes. heh...
  • Using hypnosis, scientists claim to be able to incorrectly trigger the portion of the brain responsible for recognition of something familiar.
    So, what you're really telling me is that they've figured out a way to hack the Matrix?

    Hey, where'd all these guys in black suits come frOH SHI-CONNECTION TERMINATED
  • I just read somewhere recently that deja vu is your mind blacking out for a millisecond.
    You think you saw the image before due to this blackout, I think.
  • Interesting how they are using hypnosis to do these experiments... I mean I'd think understanding hypnosis first would tell a lot more about the brain than just the deja vu bit. I mean, who didn't already know Deja vu was when you THOUGHT you saw something before and you didn't. HELLO! That's the definition of it! They haven't actually discovered anything from what I the article mentioned.
  • Deja vu is just a hash collision in the brain. There is no mystery. There are no "glitches in the matrix" required. No magic needed. No unusual mental processes at work. It's just a hash collision in your recall system. Not that our brains use hashing per se, but just to put it into lay terms. Lay terms around here, at any rate.
  • by jpellino (202698) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @02:58PM (#15786114)
    From TFA: "Researcher Akira O'Connor presented the findings to an International Conference on Memory in Sydney, Australia."

    Let me get this straight: someone named "Akira" is futzing with mind powers?
    And very poorly understood ones (dejaa vu & hypnosis) at that?
  • Good evening.

    Tonight, on "It's the Mind", we examine the phenomenon of déjà vu. That strange feeling we sometimes get that we've lived through something before, that what is happening now has already happened tonight, on "It's the Mind", we examine the phenomenon of déjà vu, that strange feeling we sometimes get that we've...

    Anyway, tonight on "It's the Mind" we examine the phenomenon of déjà vu, that strange...

    http://orangecow.org/pythonet/sketches/dejavu.htm [orangecow.org]

    RMN
    ~~~
  • If you put hypnosis in it, you can get someone to do ANYTHING.

    If such a technique is used, the research has no meaning.
  • Lame... (Score:3, Funny)

    by chinton (151403) <chinton001-slashdot&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @03:55PM (#15786504) Journal
    Now, not only can't geeky scientists get the girls, they have to fabricate a strip club in the lab. I can see the banner now:

    100s of brilliant scientists... And 3 stupid ones.

  • DUPE!!!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @07:15AM (#15789877) Homepage
    "Deja Vu Recreated in a Lab Setting"
    .... oh wait, I guess it isn't a dupe the more I think about it .....

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