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Thread: Déjà Vu; a theory

  1. #1 Déjà Vu; a theory 
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    My turn.

    Well I got to thinking one day (as I usually do) and thought of something. What if while we are asleep we not only process data collected, but make predictions based on the data we collected. When one of our predictions come true we realize it and experience a moment of déjà vu.

    Your turn to strip it down and debunk it.


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    Here another theory: Considering the time required for sound and visual sensory information to reach our ears and eyes from our experiences, what we eventually see and hear is essentially what has past or what has occurred in the past, albeit milliseconds ago. With Deja Vu, our brain is essentially anticipating the imminent arrival of sensory information from our immediate experiences and extrapolating what those experiences will be so that when the information arrives we perceive it as something we've encountered before. I welcome your thoughts.


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    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Conjectures aside guys (sorry, they're not theories in a scientific sense, only colloquial)...

    There are a few interesting ideas out there about what causes it, but IMO the most like explanation is that it's an encoding error as the sensory information potentiates into a metastable pattern of neuronal excitation (as the experience gets translated into a memory).

    Simplified, the idea is that the new perceptual information triggers a neural web associated with long-term memory and familiarity, and is hence mistakenly "tagged" as an event which took place previously. When you look at how brains work, this seems more likely as the same architecture involved in memory and recall is what is being activated during real-time conscious experience.

    Some interesting ideas here, as well:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A9...tific_research
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  5. #4  
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    Could déjà vu be related to dissociation?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Could déjà vu be related to dissociation?
    You know, Pong... That's a very interesting idea. TBH, I'm not too sure. I've always considered dissociations related to trauma and/or heavy drug use, and they tend to be much more jarring and emotional than mere deja vu. However, there is a large degree of overlap in the underlying mechanisms involved, so it's certainly possible that there is a relation between the two phenomenon.

    In short, I really don't know, but it's a rather interesting question.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Conjectures aside guys (sorry, they're not theories in a scientific sense, only colloquial)...
    Elaborate...aren't all theories merely conjectures until borne by substantial, varifiable evidence? To my knowledge, "encoding error as the sensory information potentiates into a metastable pattern of neuronal excitation" cannot be tested and, therefore, cannot be verified. However, the speed at which sound and light travels can be tested and verify. The rate at which sensory stimuli travels to the brain can also be tested and verified. Further still, our capacity to make assumptions or conceive an eventuality from prior sensory input is testable and verifiable. Isn't deja vu merely an eventuality perceived as a prior experience?
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    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Conjectures aside guys (sorry, they're not theories in a scientific sense, only colloquial)...
    Elaborate...
    Explore here, ask questions if needed when done:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Explore here, ask questions if needed when done:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory
    I hardly consider Wikipedia a source for reliable information or a voice for one's own opinion. I'm asking for your considered opinion rather than a perspective by proxy.
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  10. #9  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    I hardly consider Wikipedia a source for reliable information or a voice for one's own opinion. I'm asking for your considered opinion rather than a perspective by proxy.
    The word theory means different things in common/everyday street usage than it does in scientific context.

    Colloquially, people use the term theory as equivalent to "conjecture" or "guess" or "hypothesis" or "idea." This is NOT how it is used in science.

    In science, a theory is the pinnacle... the highest possible achievement. It is a self-consistent framework by which one can model nature and make predictions about future outcomes. In science, a theory makes falsifiable predictions and describes the mechanisms underlying natural phenomenon in a manner which does not contradict other verified theories and validated descriptions of nature, and is supported by evidence gathered through empiricism.

    What you meant in your post above when using the word "theory" is actually more accurately described as an "idea" or "conjecture." You did not mean theory in a scientific sense. As this is a forum specifically dedicated to scientific discussion and debate, it warranted mention.

    Finally, the wikipedia link I shared was not only accurate and well-referenced, but it was also more than sufficient to address your question.


    NOTE: I don't necessarily find fault with your idea or conjecture. It's actually a hypothesis with some merit. I was just pointing out that it's not a theory.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Colloquially, people use the term theory as equivalent to "conjecture" or "guess" or "hypothesis" or "idea." This is NOT how it is used in science.
    There are a few interesting ideas out there about what causes it, but IMO the most like explanation is that it's an encoding error as the sensory information potentiates into a metastable pattern of neuronal excitation (as the experience gets translated into a memory).
    Given your most eloquent definition, it seems that my colloquialism and your likely "explanation" were both merely ideas rather than theories in science. The tone of your intial comments suggested a distinction between our separate views that does not exist. "As this is a forum specifically dedicated to scientific discussion", debate and, ideally, integrity, I think this warrants mentioning as well.
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  12. #11  
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    Didn't see that coming. I would like to prompt this discussion back to topic, so you guys can save face, but I shouldn't.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  13. #12 Re: Déjà Vu; a theory 
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    Quote Originally Posted by thecobra94
    What if while we are asleep we not only process data collected, but make predictions based on the data we collected. When one of our predictions come true we realize it and experience a moment of déjà vu.
    From the OP on down, we all seem to agree that deja vu is primarily an experience which has somehow been mislabeled or mistagged by the brain. Something new is confused with something old. What mechanism is causing that to happen is still open for debate, but we are all very much on the same page regarding the root cause of the phenomenon.

    It's an encoding error. 8)
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Simplified, the idea is that the new perceptual information triggers a neural web associated with long-term memory and familiarity, and is hence mistakenly "tagged" as an event which took place previously. When you look at how brains work, this seems more likely as the same architecture involved in memory and recall is what is being activated during real-time conscious experience.
    Although I agree that an encoding confusion within the brain--likely arising from the similar sensory cues perceived between a contempory experience and an experience previously stored in memory--is a highly probable idea, I think the idea of a confusion associated with the brain's anticipatory processes--wherein an anticipated eventuality is perceived as a memory upon occurrence--is equally probable. With the latter, the brain is merely confusing the extrapolation of an eventuality as prior experience of that eventuality. One idea confuses a contemporary experience with something past, while the other confuses a forethought as memory of prior occurrence.

    Upon reflection, the simpliest idea is likely the best idea (confusing contemporary experience with something past).
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  15. #14  
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    Another angle: The sense of déjà vu, for me, is informed by a feeling of inevitability, like my thoughts/perceptions are running down an old rote track they can't escape.

    As I age, I do think increasingly by rote. But this rote thinking from habituation, unlike déjà vu, is meanwhile aware of its context. While the rote cognition runs its course I have parallel connected thoughts informing how that course was formed and how I might improve it.

    The déjà vu for some reason is disconnected from context and option. It's contracted, robotic. Now since our brains do grossly regulate the degree of interconnectedness (by neurotransmitter) I'll speculate that sudden drop in neurotransmitter causes déjà vu. Déjà vu here being synonymous with narrowed thinking. This could easily be tested with any number of drugs known to dilate or contract thought (by forcing more or less neurotransmission).
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  16. #15  
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    Hi... I'm very interested in this disquisition and I really think that all your point of view are correct... I mean the hypothesis about the differenct preception of the signal received from the ouside... or problems in the trasmission of the signal in the brain... and as you know it's very complicated to deeply understand the functionality of this part of our body!

    Actually I have read an other theory that talk about a temporary disconnections between the right and the left emisphere that produce different perception of the signal arriving so that an emisphere receives the information only a bit before the second emisphere and by this very little range of perception it comes the sensation of the Déjà vu... You feel an auditory, visual and kinesthetic sensation that the experience happened long time ago when actually it happened only a fraction of seconds ago!!
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  17. #16  
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    I like that explanation. It's elegant. It's testable.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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