Naked Scientist Chris Smith says there is no complete explanation for the phenomenon of déjà vu and that there are ethical constraints if scientists were to test it out.
But what are the possible reasons behind the overwhelming sense of familiarity with something that shouldn't be familiar at all?
Smith explains what appears to be happening in the brain when you experience déjà vu.
The circuit in the brain that triggers that flash of familiarity seems to be inappropriately engaged at certain moments so when we think we recognise something or somebody, as well as you are recalling information abut them, there is a second circuit in the brain that gives you that reflection and sudden inspiration.— Chris Smith, Naked Scientist
It would appear that when you get these funny experiences, it is that circuit turned on when it shouldn't be.— Chris Smith, Naked Scientist
This can happen for a range of reasons. Sometimes it can be that an experience is so close to a thing you do remember that the two memories get confused. The other is that when you are tired - sleep deprevation and stress can all provoke this.— Chris Smith, Naked Scientist
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