Deja Vu

In memory, there are these influences from the past , and we are not sure exactly what they are. However, we call this familiarity. That kind sometimes have a weird effect on memory, and freak us out. Sometimes, they are having effects on us that we are not even aware of. This is deja vu. Most of us have experienced this at one point or another time. The experience that right now certain events are unfolding in front of us feels vaguely, oddly familiar. Almost like we have lived this life before, or dreamed these events in a dream. Its this disconnect between feeling really familiar and it should not be feeling familiar. So , we are trying to understand why this comes about. Or, what it means. The concept of deja vu, is when we experience something in the past, and then we re-experience it, we can process it a little quicker the second time. So heres a list of words






We look at this list of words, and the next time we see it, we see it more fluently. Well why is that? This is called perceptual fluency. The idea is every time you see some object or some person- or some word. The first time you see it, you have to really look at it in quite a bit of detail to figure out what it is. However, with each repeated presentation your perceptual system becomes more fluent at recognizing whats out there. A build up of perceptual fluency, and the claim is that it can cause a feeling of familiarity. It also might not for some.

So an analogy is something that first was suggested by scientist Mandler. It is called the butcher in the bus analogy. Imagine you are on a bus, we come up on the bus, we expect to see a ton of strangers, we do not expect anyone to look familiar to us; and then you are like oh my god, this guy looks super familiar, I know this person. You begin to feel that feeling of familiarity, When you know you know somebody or something. But, you don’t remember where you know them from. So then theres the form of recollection, and you know we all have this behavior. So familiarity case with deja vu:

Let us say you as a child, when you were young, you watched a television show set in San Fransisco. Unbeknownst to you, they shot a lot of their scenes of the roads of San Fransisco you grew up on. So in fact you feel like you have seen this road before, Let’s say you watched that show when you were 10, and now you are 30 years old. You decide , I am going to San Fransisco, you have never been there before, and you round this corner, and you see this area that feels familiar strange. Through the television show you had felt like you had been there, but never really had. This claim is that is can cause deja vu. Which is familiarity, without recollection. So theres without recollection, but you know and think that you should be able to recollect exactly why you remember this. And then theres without recollection, where you just become convinced, no way never happened. The claim with perceptual fluency is, that an attribution of fluency is important. This is because you are getting the familiarity but you have nothing to attribute for it. Imagine you look at yourself in the mirror every morning, but, are not you supposed to become very fluent at perceiving yourself in the mirror on a daily basis? We all recognize ourselves very quickly, very fluently. He on the other hand doesn’t get a deja vu feeling because he knows himself. So this distinction was made strongly by a researcher named Bruce Whittlesea. The subjective state is the feeling that we associate with deja vu, he says.

Theres another way deja vu is caused, through , perception without awareness. Quick glancing, is enough to begin perceptual processing. So your perceptual system has just begun, but you got distracted by the guy you thought you saw down the street, because he moved so quickly before you could put a face to a name. Or a theory of a talk conversation involving two concepts. Mental models of who she is talking too , and how they will react. Again, deja vu is considered on the notion of the human brain and its complexities. Human memory, and the fact that we have these different systems that correlate to one another. One system can produce fluency, Another system can recollect where that fluency is coming from , or not. And from that we either have a small sense of familiarity or we do not.

Laura Zukerman

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