If you’re reading this article right now, you’re late, because we published it long ago; but if its your first time at The Factionary, it feels fresh, right? Whatever the truth is, regular readers of The Factionary noticed the real truth instantly. This article is new if the date of publication is today, or old if it dates back. However, we just wanted to trigger a sense of déjà vu — that eerie feeling that feels like you’ve experienced an event before, even though it’s brand new. That’s exactly what a team of researchers wanted to test: making people experience déjà vu and hoping if they could predict the future.
Related media: What Is Déjà Vu?
Felt It, Been There, Seen That — Before
You’ve ever, probably, experienced the feeling of a déjà vu; that weird feeling that feels like you’ve ever felt before — even without metaphysical explanations, the whole idea seems like its a recount of your past, a vivid dream you had about the …, or sometimes you even feel like you’re from another universe. That’s how bizarre déjà vu is. Whatever, if its a real life premonition of the future or the past, then it rises the question: Would you be able to make testable predictions? That’s exactly the question cognitive psychologist Dr. Anne Cleary set out to examine.
For over a decade, Cleary has been studying déjà vu, and has made quite some solid discoveries about the mystery of the phenomenon. In her research, she found that its just a mental trick of your memory that usually happens when you think you recall something but you can’t quite place it together. And as a result, she once recreated the feeling in a lab setting with instances that were laid out identically, but with different scenery — for instance, a retail store arranged just like a bedroom you’ve already seen with a clothing display where the bed used to be. How’s that weird for a study than a déjà vu.
The Flashback Study
For a 2018 study led by Dr Cleary which was published in Psychological Science, she and her team once again conducted a similar déjà vu triggering experiment on the study’s participants, and later asked them to (you guessed it) make predictions of what might happen next. Sounds amazing! What happened? First, they recruited 298 volunteers to watch the study’s 16 videos of scenes the researchers had set up in the simulation computer game “The Sims.”
Each video began with a female animated voice announcing repeatedly, the name of the scene (“This is a retail store. Retail Store.”), then the volunteers watched as the video progressed. The video made highlights to major landmarks — like a rack, bed, item — or a moment of interest that the researchers deemed fit to create any impressions.
Next, the volunteer later watch another 32 visually different test videos, but spatially identical to the study’s scenes. For instance, a garden with hedges placed exactly like the piles in a previously viewed junkyard. However, this time round, the video pauses for a while so the volunteers could have some ample time to predict what would happen. Mmmm!
Its Just A Memory Loop
What happened? Meh! Almost half of the volunteers had the feeling that they could accurately predict the next scene as they watched the video, their actual predictions were no better of than a mere chance. Maybe their memory were saying “This looks familiar! You know this place!,” isn’t as vivid enough as to give them any vital information about it.
“I think the reason people come up with psychic theories about déjà vu is that they are these mysterious, subjective experiences,” Dr. Cleary said in a press release. “Even scientists who don’t believe in past lives have whispered to me, ‘Do you have an explanation for why I have this?’ People look for explanations in different places.”
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, May 25, 2019.