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As it is an extremely unpredictable phenomenon scientists have not managed to completely understand what the déjà vu experience actually means. Nevertheless as unpredictable as it might be this phenomenon is very often met, studies showing that 66 percent of people have experienced it at least once in their lives. This is the equivalent of one third of the population.
Cognitive psychologist Anne Cleary from the Colorado State University had conducted research in this domain and it is now trying to recreate the experience of déjà vu using the modern technology of today. Using the Sims 2 game as an inspiration she has created “Deja Ville”, a 3-D virtual village. She uses it in order to analyze the arrangement of objects in a scene, also known as the concept of Gestalt family.
She exposed the subject to both original and new scenes and found out that there are more chances for the subjects to experience déjà vu when they were not able to remember one of the mapped scenes to which they were previously exposed. Cleary explained that they created a further scene for every original scene. The different new scene mapped onto the original in the spatial configuration of the elements on the grid.
An example of such a configuration would be that of an original scene containing a courtyard with a potted tree surrounded by flower beds and with pots hanging on the courtyard walls. The overlapped scene could be for example a museum with a statue instead of the tree and surrounded by rugs instead of flower beds, but having the same configuration as the flowers; and candlesticks having the same position as the pots.
The research wants to use 3-D models in order to find out whether the memories on which the déjà vu experienced is based can also help us predict what is going to happen next and thus function as a form of precognition. Cleary believes that an existing memory which fails to be recalled could not only induce the déjà vu effect when the situation is familiar, but also to generate a feeling about how the situation is going to develop. She further explained:
“Even when we fail to retrieve a memory, our brains might have a way of signaling to us that there is possibly a relevant memory in there somewhere. That signal might be useful in that it can prompt us to keep searching our memory for whatever it is that is in there that might be relevant to the current situation.”
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