Deja vu is French for 'already seen' and refers to the experience that around 70% of the population have had of feeling familiarity with a place they know they could never have been to before, or this may be an object or scene or event.
It is the inability to retrieve from memory a reason for thefeeling of familiarity that you gain when repeating a visit or experience. It is somewhat unnerving when we can find no explanation for our sense of 'knowing'. Deja vu is more common among people aged 15 to 25, and recently it had been suggested that this is becuase this age group has high levels of dopamine. The case of a doctor who took drugs for illness experienced intense episodes of deja vu. these drugs had led to an abnormally high dopamine level.
After he stopped the drugs, the deja vu experiences ceased. Naturally this caused great interest in the medical profession.
Scientists conducting research at the University of St Andrews in the United Kingdom now think they may know what is responsible for déjà vu, the feeling you experience when confronted with something new but you feel you’ve been there before. Using fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), the researchers scanned the brains of 21 volunteers while the volunteers were experiencing déjà vu. They expected to see activity in areas of the brain involved in memories, such as the hippocampus.
But, instead they found that the “frontal areas of the brain that are involved in decision making were active instead”. These scientists then came to the conclusion that when a person experiences déjà vu, their brain is “probably checking through our memories, and sending signals if there’s some kind of memory error – a conflict between what we’ve actually experienced and what we think we’ve experienced.”