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Even The Blind Get Deja Vu 165

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the again-for-the-first-time dept.
zentropa writes "Cosmos magazine is reporting that even the blind experience deja vu — backing the idea that it is caused by misfires in the brain's temporal lobe. They quote a British study where a blind man feels like he has 'already seen' some unfamiliar situations. 'Hearing and touch and smell often seem to intermingle in the déjà vu experiences,' said the study subject, whose name has not been made public. 'It is almost like photographic memory, without sight obviously... as if I was encountering a mini-recording in my head, but trying to think "Where have I come across that before?"'"
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Even The Blind Get Deja Vu

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  • by Kagura (843695) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @10:13PM (#17156982)
    ...or have I seen this article before?
  • Coincidental? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mojodamm (1021501)
    Who funded the study, Jerry Bruckheimer?

    http://dejavu.movies.go.com/ [go.com]

  • by The Zon (969911)
    It seems to me like blind people would be even more likely than sighted people to experience deja vu. If you think about it, only four senses need to be replicated, and all four are more likely to recur than identical visual patterns.
  • dept (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, 2006 @10:19PM (#17157054)
    from the again-for-the-first-time dept.

    Isn't that slashdot's motto?
  • Obligatory... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by owlnation (858981)
    I, for one, welcome our new... again... er...
  • ...After all, in the future outside of The Matrix, even blind people make good robot-batteries.
  • Crazy! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, 2006 @10:29PM (#17157134)
    Next you'll be telling me that blind people can feel emotions and think logically, just like regular people!

    • The reason that this is interesting is not because "blind people can remember things, too", but rather that this is an indication that the source of deja vu is not in the visual cortex, caused by the temporal delay between recognizing images and integrating into memory.


      This seems to show that deja vu is some difference between when overall experiences are interpreted by the brain, which don't necessarily need visual components.

      Interesting, definitely.

  • by Colgate2003 (735182) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @10:32PM (#17157154) Homepage
    When I get the deja vu feeling, it is usually because I feel as I have heard something (or discussed something with someone) before. If my sighted deja vu is mostly auditory, why is it a surprise that someone who can't see experiences the same feeling?
    • by shirai (42309) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @11:35PM (#17157726) Homepage
      That's a good question actually. For example, when I get the deja vu feeling, it is usually because I feel as I have heard something (or discussed something with someone) before. If my sighted deja vu is mostly auditory, why is it a surprise that someone who can't see experiences the same feeling?
    • by thermal_7 (929308)
      Agreed, I experience deja vu as feeling like I have been in the same (or a similiar) situation before. For me it has nothing to do with sight.
    • ...based on a remarkably stupid theory. I'm going to type this out slowly, so that the cognitive scientists out there can follow what I'm saying. Deja Vu may occur in any number of possible ways, but the human brain needs to be able to recognize ANY stimulus extremely quickly, for survival reasons. Vision, if anything, should be the least of the senses that gets such verification, because if you're looking at a threat directly, you probably don't need to remember that it was a threat the last time. It should be pretty obvious. Sound, smell, taste, touch -- these contain far less information to start with, so increasing the odds of a false positive, but need to be checked far more thoroughly because potential hazards can be much less obvious.


      A false positive is bad, especially if there are far too many, but a false negative can be lethal. This would be more true, say, 100,000 years ago than today, and that's when most of these mechanisms became as finely tuned as they are. Back in the days when hominids were trudging through deadly terrain, you had to remember places and situations that were Bad News with enough time to get clear. In those days, there was a shortage of humvees, so having time to get clear meant having extremely early warning. From that, Deja Vu is a very obvious, direct consequence. In fact, no matter how good humans may have been at avoiding such situations, Deja Vu would always be selected for far more often than against.


      (The above can be translated by crypto geeks as follows: The brain has a really crappy but very very fast hashing algorithm used to label sensory data. It's so fast that being crappy doesn't hurt survival chances, but it's crappy enough that we are seeing a very large number of hashing collisions.)


      Now, here is where it gets fun. The senses are all cross-linked and cross-referenced in the brain. When the barriers in the brain don't work as expected, we get synaesthesia. Now, it is not at all obvious where the comparison is made, or how the barriers work. For this reason, it is entirely possible to imagine a situation where data from sense A is compared with a prior input from sense B. All it would take is for the barrier to fail to work correctly for recalled data, even if it worked just fine otherwise. This is not "classic" Deja Vu, because the brain is not incorrectly matching an experience with a prior experience of the same sense - it is incorrectly matching totally different types of data. Is this possible? Depends. Any connection that is bi-directional in the brain by nature can fail to mask or block data in either direction, so I can see absolutely no reason why - given synaesthetes are proof that the failure can occur one way - it cannot fail on recall.


      (There are soooo many brain disorders associated with inexplicable associations, spooky feelings and false associations that you could fund half the field of neurology for the next fifty years just looking at sensory mismatches and nothing else. Given that, I'd call it almost a flat-out certainty that some of these experiences are cross-sensory errors that involve some of the same matching failures as Deja Vu.)

      • Or, the deja vu is the equivalent of a race condition that involves comparing a bunch of sensorial input with the memory of itself that happens *after* the brain has assembled all input in a coherent model of reality (what you called cross linking and before the cross referencing which is the process where the race condition occurs). That takes away the necessity for synaesthesia.

        It's a good thing they do away with linking deja vu to vision, but I am not surprised by that. In fact, it seems I already...
        • by jd (1658)
          Yeah, that would definitely work. In fact, because there's no distributed locking mechanism (that I know of) in the brain or any packet labeling, a race condition can occur not just between any two processes but also between any two (or more) neurons and between any two (or more) neural pathways. You can also get something similar to a packet collision when backwash from a previous signal corrupts a subsequent one. And as the topology is a mesh, you can get cyclic and self-referential inputs, which means th
  • News to me (Score:3, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @10:34PM (#17157172) Homepage Journal

    that Deja Vu always involves sight... Every now and then here in Melbourne we get a bit of wet, humid weather and I have to think where have I felt this before? and its usually Malaysia in the wet season I am reminded of, but it takes a bit of back tracking to work it out.

    BTW I do have temporal lobe epilepsy and back when I had a lot of problems a feeling of deja vu was often associated with a siezure.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Carthag (643047)
      It's not rreally a deja vu if you've experienced it before...
    • by DeadboltX (751907)
      Something reminding you of something else you have experienced isn't deja vu.
      I drink a redbull and the aftertaste makes me think of some sort of candy, like cotton candy; that isn't deja vu.

      Dictionary.com defines it as "The illusion of having already experienced something actually being experienced for the first time."
    • by pipingguy (566974) *
      Psychologically-speaking, unique, not-recently-smelled odours can also trigger memories...oh, wait. It was just a fart, false alarm.

      Upon closer inspection, Oh, crap!
  • by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @10:34PM (#17157174)
    What happens if you have deja vu of a false deja vu memory from virtual reality?
  • No big surprise. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wickedsteve (729684) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @10:35PM (#17157184) Homepage
    I am sure I am not the only one who is not the slightest bit surprised. In fact I would be surprised if anyone told me that their deja vu exprience was primarily visual.
    Every time I have had it it was a feeling of actually re-living the moment in every way and detail even down to the actions and thoughts I had seeming strangely familiar.
    For me deja vu has been a completely immersive experience where no single one of my senses was predominant.
    • by mqduck (232646)
      In fact I would be surprised if anyone told me that their deja vu exprience was primarily visual.


      Exactly! I apologize for having nothing to add, but that's exactly what I thought when I read the article (okay, summary).
  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday December 07, 2006 @10:37PM (#17157192) Homepage Journal
    First off, with a little practice you can will yourself to have Deja Vu. Just think about how you felt the last time you had Deja Vu. Ask yourself if you remember seeing random things, etc. Eventually you mind just snaps into Deja Vu and if you do this often you can do it at will.

    Why would you want to? Well, I've noticed this curious little thing; if you try to remember something when you're in the middle of Deja Vu, you won't be able to, forever. It's like you've erased a part of your memory. Why would you ever wanna forget anything? Well, its actually useful. Say you accidently found what your girlfriend is giving you for xmas. She's gone to all this trouble to hide it so it will be a surprise, and now you're going to have to fake it under the tree on xmas day. No problem, just walk away, wait an hour or two, will up some Deja Vu and try to remember what she got you. Quite apart from the fact that you could remember it 5 minutes ago, you can't remember it now, and you won't be able to remember on xmas day either. Sure, you'll be able to remember that you once could remember, but you won't be able to remember anymore.

    It's also good for forgetting the password to your encrypted filesystem when the russians grab you. Not, that, you know, I need to do that.

    • This is interesting, assuming it's at all real, and reminds me of the idea of what happens when you become aware of your breathing and can't let it go back to involuntary mode.

      Sucks when that happens.. but my secret for getting out of that is meditating and taking deep breaths, and concentrating on the breaths themselves and thinking about how each breath is a gift.. how lucky we are to be alive... etc. Now I look forward to the times where I have to take a moment to stop myself from holding back my involun
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        ...what happens when you become aware of your breathing and can't let it go back to involuntary mode.

        Thanks a lot for mentioning that and sharing the experience.
        • use the meditation technique! It works!! :)

          I wrestled with sharing it.. only because I knew it would... I dunno, encourage people to try it and then get stuck, doh- BUT I thought about how long it took me to find the meditation technique and that there might be others out there, who like I was, were toiling for years with this problem. Meditation works. You'll find a way out.

          Weird how the human condition allows for these things huh? Talk about a fucking software bug.
      • This is interesting, assuming it's at all real, and reminds me of the idea of what happens when you become aware of your breathing and can't let it go back to involuntary mode.


        Thanks a lot! Now why don't you start thinking about thinking? Are you thinking about thinking? About thinking?

    • "...if you try to remember something when you're in the middle of Deja Vu, you won't be able to, forever. It's like you've erased a part of your memory...

      How do you know that you have successfully done this? By definition, you can't remember having done it.
      • by QuantumG (50515) *
        I can remember that I once remembered it. I can even remember the events that led up to the moment I discovered it, or the thought process I went through to invent it, but I can't remember the actual "chunk" that I erased. Anyways, it works that way for me, I don't know if it would work that way for you. Guess you'll have to try it, if you care.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by j00r0m4nc3r (959816)
        Maybe he tattooed all those things he wanted to intentionally forget onto himself so he would know whether or not he actually forgot them after he forgot them.
      • Sure you can.

        Sure, you'll be able to remember that you once could remember, but you won't be able to remember anymore.

        So you remember there was a gift, and you remember you knew what it was, but you can't remember what it is now. Ostensibly, you would also remember that you used the deja vu trick to forget what it was. There's no paradox in that that I can see.

        This is one of the craziest while still being somewhat believable things I've ever read. But it just so happens I got deja vu recently (walking

    • by houghi (78078) on Friday December 08, 2006 @12:33AM (#17158196)
      It must be a trick the editors use all the time.
    • by houghi (78078) on Friday December 08, 2006 @12:37AM (#17158230)
      It must be a trick the editors use all the time .
    • I have fairly good recollections of myself during déjà vu, so I'm not sure if your method of forgetting will work for others. That said, I *do* know another technique that works for me and it does use a recursive thought pattern to erase something.

      Think of your thoughts as links--each idea reminds you of other "nearby" ideas. I associate, say, a certain smell with soup, and perhaps I associate soup with the red & white cans of Campbell's soup, winter days, and a thermos, etc. So on some lev
    • I think you are into something important there. From my experience, most deja vu situations happen during experience chain that leads to something that is un-usual and may contain some highly "sensetive" data that you either do not want to remember, or, that you have loaded with so much intensity (for a lack of a better word).

      Sometimes these situations deal with life changing experiences. You are in a cross-roads when you have to make decision which path of action to take, but you hesitate to take some path
    • by TheLink (130905)
      But if what you say is true, if you try to remember AND relive a Deja Vu experience and succeed, wouldn't you forget that Deja Vu experience?

      I can remember my last Deja Vu experience, I can't be bothered to trying to memorize them for long tho.

      I'm guessing that if I ever try your suggestion and try to remember some random thingy during a Deja Vu experience, that act of remembering would end up being part of my Deja Vu experience too, and hours later I'll still remember it and the Deja Vu experience.

      I figure
  • by UpnAtom (551727) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @10:43PM (#17157234) Homepage
    ... given the title. After all, who could actually think the blind couldn't get deja vu?
  • by Das Auge (597142)
    I swear I haven't seen this before!
  • by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @10:54PM (#17157340)
    I'd be more interested in knowing at what age Deja Vu begins to show up. I've always figured Deja Vu really was you recognizing something similar to something from your past. Nothing fancy, just a little fragment of sensory perception you stored up there and happened to set off the recognition trigger. If it happens in very young children no less often than adults, then you've got a good indication it's not a real memory fragment.
    • I think I had deja vu at least as often in my early childhood as I do now. I know that deja vu was a common thing for me as early as five or six, and the frequency may have even gone down over the years.
      • by paskie (539112)
        I agree, I also feel that I have been getting deja vu more frequently in my childhood. My brain sure got much lazier over the years.
    • I thought this too, but began wondering why I don't get that "Been here before" feeling every time I enter a situation I really have been in before. Like my kitchen. Or when I'm watching a re-run.

      This is not to say that Deja Vu does not also sometimes happen under just those sorts of circumstances, but it seems rather too arbitrary.


      -FL

      • by Shai-kun (728212)

        ...why I don't get that "Been here before" feeling every time I enter a situation I really have been in before. Like my kitchen. Or when I'm watching a re-run.

        Except that you do. Deja vu is not so much the 'been here before' feeling itself, but the accompanying eerie feeling caused by feeling familiarity where there should be none. At least, that is how I understand it works; feeling familiar with being in your kitchen doesn't trigger any eerieness since it's completely expected to feel familiar.

        • Except that you do. Deja vu is not so much the 'been here before' feeling itself, but the accompanying eerie feeling caused by feeling familiarity where there should be none. At least, that is how I understand it works; feeling familiar with being in your kitchen doesn't trigger any eerieness since it's completely expected to feel familiar.

          Fair enough, but the reason I picked my kitchen as the example was that I have three times in the last couple of months, felt exactly that eerie feeling of familiarity up
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      Well informally, my 4 & 5 year olds always say "we've seen this before" about half the time when we watch some new movie. Whether they're just remembering an ad or what, I can't be sure, but false memories are absolutely not relegated to adulthood (in fact, they're more prominant in childhood IIRC). If false memories are one of the triggers for deja vu, then I'm guessing very young children experience it as well, although they lack the vocabulary to express it, and probably take it for granted since a
  • Deja Vu? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ktakki (64573) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @11:10PM (#17157502) Homepage Journal
    It's just a glitch in the Matrix.

    k.
    • by SeaFox (739806)
      It's just a glitch in the Matrix.

      Yeah, except they don't see the black cat repeat. They just hear the same meow twice.
  • I always thought that deja vu was an experience, comprised of things our senses tell us. most of my deja vus are triggered not by what I see but rather a combination of senses that makes up the familiar experience of deja vu.
  • This report comes out just as a Denzel Washington flick of the same name is hitting theaters. Science and marketing, two great tastes that go great together.
  • In Soviet Russia...it's Deja-vYOU!

    Get it?

    YOU are the Deja-vu for someone else?
  • the blind? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Yirimyah (884895) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @11:58PM (#17157930) Homepage
    And all across America, the hawks are thinking "Is it just me, or is this Vietnam again?"
    • by mqduck (232646)
      And all across America, the hawks are thinking "Is it just me, or is this Vietnam again?"


      Actually, I think the hawks are the only ones not thinking that.
  • I think the experience is based more on a deeper instinctive reaction, (I think instincts are connected to unconscious levels of awareness as well as memories from past lives), and that the experience of Deja Vu is triggered by odd happenings in the time stream which a deeper part of a person notices but cannot rationalize. --That is, time is not linear, and our passage through it can be manipulated by beings which exist beyond our awareness.

    --I know. Occam would have a fit. But Occam was also a monk who
    • by spun (1352)
      People misunderstand Occam. He doesn't say that the simplest explanation is the most likely. He says that, given a number of possibilities and no other way to distinguish the most likely, the simplest is the most likely. People forget that important caveat all the time. Occam's razor isn't universal, it is a rule of thumb of last resort, for making educated guesses when you don't have enough information. Occam's razor can't logically validate anything, because it can never make any certain predictions, only
  • I used to have temporal-lobe epilepsy (aka psycho-motor epilepsy) and the "Trigger" emotion/sensation was a very intense feeling of deja-vu. The sensation did not cause the seizure but was rather a warning sign that an episode was starting.

    It was caused by a tumor in my Right-temporal lobe. Surgery was preformed and removed my right-temporal lobe plus more from a deep 'root' as the doctor called it. That was April 30/1990. I am feeling much better now. =)

    • removed my right-temporal lobe plus more from a deep 'root' as the doctor called it

      Doctor says here's your problem

      userdel root

      ahhh feels better already. But I agree with the link to psycho-motor seizures. I had a lot of things like this between the ages of about 14 and 19, then a grand mal, then got put on to tegretol which fortunately got the problem mostly under control.

      Incidently, you must have had a few CT scans in your time. Did the dye they put in ever send you totally high? To this day I am still

      • by B5_geek (638928)
        No, the dye never got me high or buzzed. I too had a grand mal once, scared the shit out of my mom and I just wanted to sleep. I was on a few different drugs tegretol was one of them, but nothing helped 100%


  • the most believable explanation of dejavu i've heard is that our brain "short circuits" momentarily recording information directly to long term memory instead of it's normal route through short term memory and on through. the sensation we experiencing is not remembering so to speak, so much as the sensation of accessing long term memory.
  • Even if you're blind, you need to know your room to navigate and think. I get so much flack about my implementation of Artificial Intelligence [geocities.com] that it needs a modern 3d card and high end CAD to work because people tell me it has no eyes so it can't think for itself. I have half a notion to spend my entire life on AI, but I won't since there are more pressing matters to attend to.
  • It's not specifically what you're seeing that's triggering it. It's not even as simple as "I've seen this before" or "I've done this before."

    Instead, it's a completely overwhelming feeling that every aspect of the current situation down to your thoughts has occurred in this exact sequence before. Senses are only a part of the equation. So should it be a surprise to anyone that this affects those missing one or more of them?

  • Since when was deja vu considered to be restricted to sight based events? I have had Deja vu from smells, sounds (music, etc), touch and even just a feeling. Seems quite boring to think that deja vu can only be experienced from sight based experiences.

    I seem to recall that Deja vu is actually your brain mis-interpreting what you are currently experiencing as being something you have experienced in the past (ie: processing what you are currently experiencing as if it is coming from your brain's archives. Or

  • remember reading somewhere that its because one of the eyes deliver the signal a bit late than the other eye (or one ear than the other), so the brain already knows what has happened
  • by Tweekster (949766) on Friday December 08, 2006 @01:02AM (#17158438)
    I feel the situation, sight has nothing to do with deja vu.
  • Finally (Score:3, Informative)

    by ari_j (90255) on Friday December 08, 2006 @01:25AM (#17158606)
    This proves that they have the same capabilities as the rest of us, so the blind can finally stop parking in the good spots up front. ;)
  • Deja vu is caused by a glitch in the Matrix - this would affect all senses, not merely visual. Am I the only one that thinks this is really obvious?
  • This is news? (Score:2, Informative)

    by KhromeGnome (620082)
    Personally, whenever I experience deja vú it's mostly related to non-visual stimuli.
  • Excuse me, but that's bullshit. It might be part of the story, but there's something very big they're missing.

    I have personally experienced enough deja vu that I went through the effort to document things which might come up as deja vu - dreams and daydreams, as well as all instances of perceived deja vu. Nothing came of it for a year or so, until I went back and checked the instances: I'd actually been dreaming circumstances which occured weeks, months, or years later.
  • Possible explanation (Score:3, Informative)

    by kbahey (102895) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:48AM (#17161934) Homepage
    I am not a neuro-scientist, but a medical doctor I know explained deja vu as simply when the signals from the same event reach the two sides of the brain a split second apart.

    The second one triggers the "I've seen this before" experience in the brain, which is technically true, but not in the distant past, rather in the very near past (less than a second ago).
    • I am not a neuro-scientist, but a medical doctor I know explained deja vu as simply when the signals from the same event reach the two sides of the brain a split second apart.

      The second one triggers the "I've seen this before" experience in the brain, which is technically true, but not in the distant past, rather in the very near past (less than a second ago).

      Unfortunately, that explanation doesn't make a lot of sense. It's obvious to anyone who's had it occur that deja vu is not restricted to the senses. For me, it's far more often the feeling that a situation is recurring -- including the feeling that situation is recurring.

    • by Alsee (515537)
      when the signals from the same event reach the two sides of the brain a split second apart.

      Yes, this happens to me all the time when I'm travelling sideways at 98% lightspeed.

      -
  • by mqduck (232646)
    Speaking as a psychology student: Duh! I've never even heard of this idea that deja vu is only tied to sight.

    Speaking as a human being: Personally, I'm an extremely unvisual person, and I'm not sure if I ever had deja vu tied to sight. My deja vu is tied almost exclusively to speech, which is kind of what my brain focuses on in general.

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