Research has now offered an insight into the 'déjà vu' phenomenon, a sensation of having done, seen or experienced certain things before. Leeds university researchers have found that it is nothing more than a defect in the memory process. Though all of us have experienced similar feeling in our day-to-day life, for some people, this kind of a feeling is constant.
A man who presented to the memory clinic at Leeds University, saying that he had already witnessed his friend's funeral, sparked interest amongst the attending physicians. The patient initially refused to attend the clinic as he was wrongly convinced that he had been to the clinic before.
The 80-year-old patient, afflicted with dementia was even able to recollect details about the time and place of appointment with the doctor in the clinic. Surprisingly, he reported of seeing some of the television programmes before and hearing a bird sing the same song, every time he went out.
This prompted curiosity, which was followed by publicity about his case. Soon, 10 other individuals, with the same condition presented to the clinic. The other participants were however, younger than the initial case. Probing deep, the researchers were able to document a history of chronic pain or head injury in all the cases studied.
It is hypothesized that memory circuit failure in the temporal lobe of the brain, associated with recollection of memory can lead to such a condition. If a memory circuit is either switched on permanently or is hyperactive, as in case of chronic déjà vu sufferers, it could then lead to creation of memories, where none exist in reality.
The condition can have a significant effect on the mental health of an individual. In worst cases, it can lead to depression. Such individuals need reassurance stating that they are not alone. More research is clearly indicated to appreciate such conditions and better understand memory and thought processes in the near future.