We've all heard of déjà vu and many of us have probably experienced it too. Research has shown that more than two-thirds of us have had an episode of déjà vu. Déjà vu is French for "already seen" and the technical definition is a feeling of reliving an experience that's new. If you've ever seen the movie "Groundhog Day", you can imagine what déjà vu is like even if you haven't experienced it yourself (the movie is a bit of an extreme version of this however).
Although the cause of déjà vu isn't clear, researchers have come up with some possible explanations:
1) Excess of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the temporal lobes
2) People who experience small seizures in the right temporal lobe (responsible for feelings of familiarity) may experience déjà vu right before a seizure
3) When a present experience resembles an earlier one
Even though déjà vu is commonly known, not many people have heard of jamais vu. This is basically the opposite of déjà vu and is French for "never seen". In jamais vu, one feels as though a previously familiar experience suddenly feels new or unfamiliar.
Sometimes neurological disorders are associated with jamais vu. These disorders include amnesia (memory loss) and epilepsy (sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions). Although there is not a lot about jamais vu on the internet, I was able to find an interesting video about a woman describing her jamais vu experience during a partial seizure. (In the video, she hadn't yet known that she had experienced jamais vu, but found out later as her video is titled accordingly).
Have you ever experienced déjà vu or jamais vu? What was it like? Can you think of a reason or possible explanation for it?
Can you think of a way that déjà vu or jamais vu can be tested in an experimental setting?
Do you think the woman in this video was really experiencing jamais vu?
(make-up blog for missed discussion on 2/15)