Some think déjà vu is a sign that you’re recalling an experience from a past life. Spooky!
Carrie-Anne Moss, as Trinity in The Matrix trilogy, tells us (and Keanu Reeves as Neo) that déjà vu is a “glitch in the Matrix“—the simulated reality that keeps humanity unaware that intelligent machines have actually taken over the world.
[One] theory is that déjà vu is associated with false memories—memories that feel real but aren’t. This form of déjà vu would be similar to the feeling when you can’t differentiate between something that really happened versus a dream. However, researchers have begun to push back on this idea.
One study used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of 21 participants as they experienced a kind of lab-induced déjà vu. Interestingly, the areas of the brain involved in memory, like the hippocampus, were not triggered.
Instead, the researchers found the active areas of the brain were those involved in decision making. They interpret this result to mean that déjà vu could instead be a result of our brains conducting some form of conflict resolution. In other words, our brain checks through our memories like a rolodex looking for any conflict between what we think we’ve experienced versus what actually happened to us.