Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A stunning new look at déjà vu

29.11.2006
A blind man suffering déjà vu. It sounds like a contradiction in terms – but the first case study of its kind has turned the whole theory of déjà vu on its head.

Traditionally it was thought images from one eye were delayed, arriving in the brain microseconds after images from the other eye – causing a sensation that something was being seen for the second time.

But University of Leeds researchers report for the first time the case of a blind person experiencing déjà vu through smell, hearing and touch.

The University is a world-leader in déjà vu research. The ground-breaking work of the University’s Institute of Psychological Sciences has been widely published in both the scientific and the news media. Their work is particularly aimed at understanding chronic déjà vu, where patients are constantly plagued by the feeling of having “been here before”.

... more about:
»déjà »experiences

In a new paper published in the journal Brain and Cognition*, researchers Akira O’Connor and Chris Moulin relate how mundane experiences – undoing a jacket zip while hearing a particular piece of music; hearing a snatch of conversation while holding a plate in the school dining hall – were examples of how deja experiences were triggered in the blind subject.

“It is the first time this has been reported in scientific literature,” said O’Connor. “It’s useful because it provides a concrete case study which contradicts the theory of optical pathway delay. Eventually we would like to talk to more blind people, though there’s no reason to believe this man’s experiences are abnormal or different to those of others.

“Optical pathway delay is a quite antiquated theory, but still widely believed – and was the basis for the déjà vu sequences in Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22. But this provides strong evidence that optical pathway delay is not the explanation for déjà vu. The findings are so obvious, so intuitive, that it’s remarkable this research has never been done before.”

O’Connor admits that to the person experiencing déjà vu, it feels almost inexplicable. “And because it feels so subjective, psychology, in striving for objectivity, has tended to shy away from it. But psychologists have gone some way to illuminating things like the ‘tip of my tongue’ sensation when you can’t think of a particular word. We just wanted to get to the same sort of understanding for déjà vu.”

O’Connor’s thesis, due to be completed next year, examines the experimental induction of déjà vu through hypnosis. “We now believe that deja experiences are caused when an area of the brain that deals with familiarity gets disrupted,” he said.

In one experiment, students are asked to remember words, then hypnotised to make them forget – and then shown the same word again to induce a feeling that they have seen it before. Around half said this brought on a sensation similar to déjà vu – half of whom said it was definitely déjà vu.

O’Connor would like to take the research further: “It would be really neat to do some neuro-imaging on people during genuine spontaneous déjà vu experiences – but it’s very difficult to get them to have them on demand…”

Simon Jenkins | alfa
Further information:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk

Further reports about: déjà experiences

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>