In the News (from MIT News): “Research deciphers ‘déjà-vu’ brain mechanics” Neuroscientists at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT report in the June 7 early online edition of Science that they have identified for the first time a neuronal mechanism that helps us rapidly distinguish similar, yet distinct, places.
Forming memories of places and contexts in which episodes occur engages a part of the brain called the hippocampus. Researchers believe that a set of neurons called place cells fire to provide a sort of blueprint for any new space we encounter. The next time we see the space, those same neurons fire. Thus we know when we’ve been somewhere before and don’t have to relearn our way around familiar turf.
But if we enter a space very similar to one we have seen before, a new but overlapping set of neurons creates the blueprint. When there is enough overlap between the two sets, we experience an eerie feeling of déjà vu – a French phrase that literally means, “already seen.”
My Comment: This is just one example of how people today are finding prosaic explanations of all their misconceptions, such as past lives, journeys through time, and other “mysterious” occurrences.
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