Scientists have a new explanation for one of the weirdest peculiarities of our brain — the phenomenon of déjà vu. Scottish professor Akira O’Connor thinks that a ’glitch in the Matrix’ is just a fact-check made by our own brain.
To prove this theory, Dr. O’Connor conducted a series of experiments that involved artificial induction of déjà vu. The method was to tell the study participants a number of words linked by a common but purposefully omitted concept. For example, in the series of pillow, bed, night there was no sleep.
Right after saying the series of words to the study participants, researchers asked them if they’d heard a word with ’s’ in it, and the answer was negative. However, later, when asked the same question, the participants mostly said ’sleep.’ They began thinking that they’d actually heard this word because it was a very logical addition to the sequence. The participants’ brains were overinterpreting their own memories, making them feel a strong moment of déjà vu right then.
A functional magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated that the most active areas of the brain at such moments were those responsible for decision-making, not memories.
Dr. O’Connor assumed that these brain areas create the feeling of déjà vu because they track our memories and seek errors in them. When they find an inconsistency, they activate at once, while we experience an eerie feeling as though this happened to us before.
Another researcher, Stefan Köhler from Canada, thinks that ’there may be some conflict resolution going on in the brain during déjà vu.’
A lot of data still needs to be collected before the theory can be proven, but if it’s actually true, the phenomenon of déjà vu will finally become unraveled. It will mean that our brain checks the quality of our memories and looks for inconsistencies between what we really remember and what we think we do.