Saturday, June 9, 2007

Dejavu- The theory behind the phenomenon

A physiological explanation of the deja vu phenomenon may exist. The optical and neural paths from the two eyes may be slightly different, or the processing of such signals might be delayed in one path due to some variant structure. Or, alternately, a "newer" and "older" brain processing method might be responsible.

For many years, psychologists have known of the phenomenon of Deja Vu, where a patient is absolutely convinced that a first visit to an area seemed like a place already familiar and known. (Deja vu is different from various similar phenomena such as Precognition [where a person has a premonition of some future event] or Clarivoyance [where a person comes to know about some simultaneous event a long distance away] or assorted other unusual phenomena. Modern science does not have adequate explanations for ANY of these apparent phenomena. I am only considering Deja vu here!

During the time while this web-page has been on the Internet, more than two thousand people (up to Nov 2006) have e-mailed to say that they have Deja Vu experiences. That is interesting, but their descriptions have virtually always described some different phenomenon. If a person has any pre-knowledge of something that is yet to happen, like in a dream, it cannot be Deja Vu, and is likely to be some type of Precognition. (Even if the Precognition is only seconds before the event.) A person cannot know that a Deja Vu experience is coming, and also, it is also always sensed as INSTANTANEOUS, as being a sudden realization that an experience "was somehow familiar". This last part eliminates Deja Vu from occurring in any place that the person has already been! (Again, such experiences are probably Precognition instead, or even something as mundane as much as a simple forgotten memory from a year earlier.)

Here is a hypothetical example of Deja Vu, assuming that you are not an Eskimo! On your first trip EVER to some desolate village in northern Alaska, you are invited into an igloo. The moment you are inside, and see everything, you suddenly feel that you "already knew" where everything was. Specifically, you notice something that you consider unusual, but sense that you somehow were familiar with that elk leg or whatever. You obviously could not have known, but you have an instantaneous sensation that you "must have already been there" even though you know that was impossible. Notice that you do NOT know what is in the next room, before you actually go there. (If that occurs, it would be Precognition.)

Here is another potential example of what an actual deja vu might be. You are driving cross-country, and have never been to Utah before. You stop for gas, and need to use their restroom. As you enter, you find a full-size fireplace INSIDE THE BATHROOM! Now, no one expects to see a fireplace inside a public bathroom, so it would be an experience that you probably had never experienced in any OTHER bathroom! And you had certainly never been to THIS one. And yet, immediately AFTER this experience, you have the sensation that you had "been there before". THAT would be a Deja vu. Notice that you did not "predict" seeing anything unusual, EVEN A SECOND AHEAD, and that you only had the Deja vu sensation AFTER actually seeing it. And that you could not possibly convince anyone that you had previously experienced that, because any listener would insist it was impossible. (If you had ANY pre-knowledge, even a second earlier, it could not actually be a Deja vu, and would probably be some sort of Precognition).

In order for it to be a credible Deja vu experience, it needs to be some experience that is clearly different from any forgotten memory you might have had, which generally also means something truly surprising. (Our brains have millions of such forgotten memories, like of smells or songs or old friends, which seem to be able to get triggered sometimes, and that is NOT Deja vu.)

Also, since, by definition, there can be no external confirmation of a Deja vu experience, no one else could possible know and there is no actual evidence, it turns out that "credible" Deja vu experiences have only been believed when the witness had a character that was beyond any question. If that person had EVER been known to have told a lie, or even bent the truth, it is likely that no one would believe any claim of a Deja vu experience!

Because of all this, Deja Vu is actually a LOT more rare than everyone seems to think it is! When people casually say that they have many Deja vus every day, or even several each week, their credibility pretty much goes to zero as to regarding Deja Vus! (It is certainly true that movies and the news seem to describe Deja vu as something rather different than it actually is!) They may certainly be describing Precognitions, and probably nearly always are. Of the billions of people who have ever lived, only a few handful may have actually had experiences that are credibly true Deja vus! And I am not aware of ANYONE who has ever credibly claimed to have had more than two Deja Vus in their entire life. Interestingly, some e-mailers then inform me that I am completely wrong! They apparently think that they are authorities on Deja vu! Interesting! I tend to doubt it though, if they cannot even get their definitions of phenomena straight!

Please note that this is distinctly different from when you go up to a vending machine and you somehow "know" that a pop can will get jammed or will be dented or something (which is probably Precognition). Also note that ANY experience that involves more than a fraction of a second cannot be Deja Vu (and is likely to be Precognition or Clairvoyance). For clarification purposes, here are some generalized comments about several paranormal phenomena.

  • Precognition. (pre = before; cognition = knowing). This is probably the most common paranormal experience that people claim to have. It is usually where a person "watches" a scene, sometimes in a dream or a daydream, which then later, usually within hours or days, and sometimes within seconds, seems to match an actual event. When the event involves an airplane crash or other disaster, such stories sometimes get in the news.

    However, from a scientific perspective, there is usually very little "data", evidence or documentation, to confirm that a Precognition had taken place. If a person learns about some disaster and THEN tells people that he/she had foreseen it the day before, that may or may not be true, because there is usually no corroborative confirmation of what the person claims. There are certainly notable exceptions. Around 2001, I think, a woman who had become known for such insights was being interviewed on a live radio call-in talk show, when she suddenly got a Precognition regarding an airliner crash. On the air, live, she described a number of details that she saw. I believe that around six hours later, an airliner crashed in a manner extremely similar to what she had described. From a scientific perspective, THAT represents a documentable event, and it is valuable toward some future understanding of the phenomenon. (If she had been able to see an actual identifying number on the aircraft's tail, it would have been even more impressive!)

    When an individual puts money in a vending machine and the pop can comes out upside down, and he/she then tells friends that he/she had "seen" that was going to happen in a dream, it has virtualy no scientific value toward understanding the phenomena. About the only way it would, would be if the person woke up from the dream, wrote down specific details seen in the dream, signed and dated the notes, and immediately gave a copy of the notes to some respected person (NOT a family member or friend!) (like maybe a Doctor or a Lawyer or a Police Officer) to also sign and date upon acceptance. THEN, if the events later came true, there would be some credible confirmation that a Precognition had occurred. All this is pretty involved, and busy respected people would quickly tire of being given such notes several times each day! But, otherwise, the only "evidence" that would exist would be the word of the person who had the dream or daydream. In scientific terms, that is called "anecdotal evidence", un-corroborated statements that something had occurred, and it is considered to be of virtually zero scientific value.

  • Clairvoyance (clair=clear; voyance=seeing). This paranormal phenomenon is somewhat similar to Precognition, but rather than seeing a scene earlier in time than it actually happens, it is usually seeing a scene at a location that is distant, and quite possibly at the exact same time. If Clairvoyance occurs alone, the awareness (vision) seems to sometimes be occurring at the exact same moment (corrected for time zones) when some real event is occurring. Clairvoyance seems to also sometimes be combined with Precognition, where a distant, future scene is seen in a dream or daydream.

    There have been many "somewhat documented" examples of Clairvoyance. In many cases, close relatives, particularly twins, seem to be sometimes capable of an awareness that science has not yet figured out. An example would be where a twin in Ohio might get an instantaneous sensation of sadness, and might even feel that something terrible has happened, only to learn two days later that the other twin had been in a serious car accident in Italy, essentially at the exact same moment of the sensation or vision. Since the person having such a sensation often has hours or days to worry about such a possibility, it is relatively common to mention it to others, which represents a certain level of documentation (for scientific purposes). For true scientific value, writing notes, signing and dating them, and immediately giving the notes to a respected person, like above, would really be the only really valuable scientific evidence, because that would represent corroboration of the otherwise anecdotal evidence.

    There was a very impressive example of a pretty well documented case of Clairvoyance. And it was somewhat accidental! In August 1883, a Byron Somes worked for the Boston Globe newspaper, in Boston, Massachusetts. He was sleeping in his office at the newspaper (after heavy drinking) on a Sunday night. He woke up due to a terrifying dream that he just had. It was such an unusual dream, and he was a reporter, that he wrote down all the details that he had seen in it. The dream/nightmare was about a horrendous scene of explosions, earthquakes and screams of countless dying people. Somes wrote the word IMPORTANT on his notes and left them on his desk and went home to sleep. He did not report for work the next day, Monday, still suffering from the heavy drinking.

    In 1883, there was not yet any radio or television, and news traveled fairly slowly around the world, even for newspapers. Geological people (there were not really yet any experts) were puzzled by a seismological disturbance that had just been recorded, which was identified as being on the other side of the Earth, in the Straits of Sunda. Someone at the newspaper apparently found the notes on Somes' desk, and the word IMPORTANT, and assumed that it was a report on that disturbance. On August 29, 1883, the Boston Globe ran an excellent story based on the details of those notes. Other newspapers across the country picked up the story and almost immediately, the entire country "knew" of what had happened to Krakatoa, a volcano that erupted so violently that an entire island disappeared in the process!

    The management of the Boston Globe wanted more information on this remarkable, and very popular, story, which was selling a lot of newspapers! So they found Somes, wanting more details. Somes soon admitted that it was not a news story at all but merely notes on a terrible nightmare. He was fired immediately. The Boston Globe was preparing to issue a public confession that the story was not true, that it was a mistake, just a dream. But as they were about to do that, huge tsunamis (incorrectly called tidal waves) started hitting the California coast, and actual news of the disaster began to arrive as survivors of the disaster got to cities with telegraph stations that had not been destroyed. Somes was re-hired as the incoming (real) news was amazingly identical to what Somes had written down in his nightmare notes.

    Other newspapers were curious as to how the Boston Globe could have scooped them so remarkably. The Boston Globe declined to admit the actual truth, and made up several stories to try to explain their unusual access to information that they obviously couldn't have gotten!

    Somes had his nightmare late on Sunday night in Boston. Because of time zones and the International Date Line, it was actually Monday morning at Krakatoa at that time, essentially the identical time that was later confirmed as when the volcano erupted so violently. Since that story (accidentally) got published Nationally before any actual evidence was even available, it represents an excellent example of the sort of documentation that is valuable for scientific research regarding Clairvoyance.

  • Telekinesis (tele = distance; kinesis = moving) This is a rather different paranormal phenomenon where a person is apparently able to cause (small) objects to move without actually touching them. The only really well documented example I have heard of involved a very young Russian girl who, with apparently very great exertion, could make small objects move on a table in a laboratory, with various scientists present. Other claimed examples seem to have tended to all involve young girls, and the ability is apparently lost by the later teens. (There have been many people who have known how to fake such displays by trickery, as part of entertainment for audiences.)

  • Deja Vu Deja Vu is different from these other phenomena, by definition. A person who experiences Deja Vu does not have any clue whatever that something is GOING to happen (like Precognition), but merely has the sensation (during and afterward) of having already experienced the scene.

    I am personally only aware of one incident that seems to qualify as a Deja Vu event. My half-brother grew up in the Midwest, near Chicago. When he enlisted in the Marines, he was shipped to Fort Pendleton in southern California. He had never been anywhere in California before. When he got a three-day pass, he drove north into central California just to explore that area. In one of the small towns there, he stopped for gasoline. As he looked around the town, he KNEW that he had been there before! But, of course, he couldn't have been! He sensed a real familiarity with the town and where stores were and even small details.

    If you think about it, you can see how impossible it is to document such Deja Vu experiences to be of value to any scientific investigation. He did not know that something surprising was about to happen, so he could not even have written down any notes, as might be possible for Precognition or Clairvoyance. And no other person could even confirm the "feeling" of familiarity he had, so there is no way to advance such an experience beyond merely being anecdotal evidence. As a result, there is virtually nothing of scientific value to even confirm that the phenomenon of Deja Vu even exists! Except from the words of those people who have experienced it! And, my acceptance of that as being a "real" experience is very dependent on the fact that I had great respect for him as being my "big brother"!

  • Combinations There are a LOT of experiences that people have described that seem to possibly be some combination of these para-normal phenomena, or they might be entirely distinct phenomena. Here are a few examples that I find interesting!

    What is generally called Reincarnation sometimes seems to be too selective to me. There are modern people who are convinced that they are reincarnated Civil War soldiers, and some of them seem to know details about the death of some Civil War soldier that would not easily be learned. That certainly suggests that some paranormal phenomena is at work. But if it was actually a Reincarnation, why doesn't the modern person remember what the soldier had for lunch that day? Or the names and descriptions of brothers and sisters and parents? The entire basis for a claim of Reincarnation seems to be some bits of very specific knowledge about events associated with the MOMENT of the death of the soldier. I am tempted to think that these cases might actually be examples of a combination of Clairvoyance and Precognition (or, actually, Post-cognition) and probably not actually evidence of anything like Reincarnation.

    There definitely have been some remarkable cases that seem to suggest Reincarnation. The most famous is Shanti Devi, a girl who was born in Delhi, India in 1926. As a very young child, she concerned her mother by constantly seeming confused and bewildered. When she was seven years old, she told her mother than she had lived before, in a distant town called Muttra, and she described the house and people of that life. Her parents were very concerned about such strange statements, and they took her to a Physician, who carefully interviewed her. The Doctor did not provide any answers, and merely recommended that the father write down her various statements.

    She never changed her story. Her parents sadly concluded that she was mentally defective, and had little hope for her. When she was nine, in 1935, she told her parents that she had lived in Muttra, been married, and had three children. She described the children, including their names, and said that her own earlier name had been Ludgi. Her parents humored her, but did nothing.

    One evening, during meal preparation, there was a knock at the door, and Shanti went to answer it. Her mother soon found her staring at the stranger on the steps, who she claimed was the cousin of her previous husband! And that she knew that he lived in Muttra, the same town she claimed to previously live in. The man DID live in Muttra, but he had merely come to talk business with Shanti's father. He did not recognize the little girl Shanti, but he told her parents that he had a cousin whose wife, named Ludgi, had died in childbirth ten years earlier.

    Her parents then described the stories Shanti had long told, and the stranger agreed to get his cousin to come to Delhi to see if Shanti could recognize him. Shanti knew nothing of this plan, but when the new stranger arrived, she immediately threw herself in his arms and cried! The man was obviously very confused! Soon, the government of India appointed a special committe of scientists to investigate the whole matter, and suddenly, a little nine-year-old girl became very famous in India!

    The scientists took Shanti to the town of Muttra. She immediately pointed out and named many people. Interestingly, she spoke to them in a dialect that was local to Muttra, and which she would not have learned in Delhi (where she only understood and spoke Hindustani). Shanti demonstrated to the scientists that she was completely familiar with the town, many of the people, and many of the houses and stores.

    There is FAR more remarkable documentation regarding Shanti Devi, and many books have been written about her. No one yet has any answers, although lots of people make guesses, and Reincarnation is the primary hypothesis. Given all the evidence, it is hard to argue against! But the jury is still out, until some day science understands how such things could occur. My point of including Shanti Devi here is to demonstrate the sort of documentation that is of great value to science. She had made very specific statements for several years, and her parents and a Doctor had been witnesses to those statements. Later, a team of scientists also witnessed and documented many amazing things regarding her.

    One additional incident that might qualify as paranormal has long intrigued me! A man named David Lang lived with his family near Gallatin, Tennessee in 1880. He was a respected and known man. On a bright sunny afternoon of September 23, 1880, he was walking across his front yard, in clear view of his wife and two young children. In addition, a carriage was arriving, of a friend, noted Judge August Peck. David turned around to return to the house to greet his guest, and after a few steps, just vanished! Five people witnessed this event, the Judge, his driver, Mrs. Lang and the two children. His wife screamed.

    All five immediately ran to the place where Mr. Lang had just disappeared, in the middle of a normal lawn, with no trees nearby and no holes to have fallen into. The adults searched and searched and found no clue. Mrs. Lang becme hysterical. Neighbors soon joined the search and dozens of people were soon looking for David Lang.

    Afterwards, Mrs. Lang never really recovered, and all but one of the household servants soon left. The county Surveyor carefully examined the field. Interestingly, the following Spring, a circle of yellowed grass around 15 feet in diameter had formed where Mr. Lang had disappeared, and on a quiet evening in April 1881, the two children were playing nearby when they heard what they said was their father's voice, faintly calling for help, over and over, until it faded away.

    No one has the slightest clue about what happened regarding David Lang! Even good guesses are hard to come by! He was apparently never seen again by anyone. Since he had seemed to have been a happy and successful person, and with a wife and children, it hard to imagine that he would have just "run away" and even if he did, how could he have done it? It represents to me another example of a type of event that is currently still beyond our understanding.

Deja Vu

Of the five human senses, it appears that the deja vu phenomenon only occurs to the sense of sight. Whether the other senses can be affected is unclear. Since deja vu is such an undocumentable experience, even this is not a certain statement.

Going under the assumptions that it is exclusively a visual phenomenon, that it only seems to occur to certain people, and that there must be a physiological cause for the phenomenon, we consider the following possible explanation:

Hypothesis A

Any scene perceived by a normal person, is actually seen independently by each of the two eyes. That is how we accomplish three dimensional vision. Let us speculate for a moment that the signal path to the brain has a slightly different length from the two eyes. If this was the case, then the brain would get the signals from the first eye, and promptly process them and record them into memory. A moment later, the signals would arrive from the other optic nerve. The brain would then receive this signal, and immediately note that it seems very familiar, being very similar (virtually identical) to an image already in memory. But it wouldn't be a memory from months or years earlier. It would have only been from a memory recorded a fraction of a second earlier! (The brain's memory does not keep "time stamps" on individual memories and has no way of identifying when they first were recorded there. Under normal circumstances, other related experiences that include time-information usually give a person a cue as to when a memory was from.)

Psychological experimentation has solidly established that the human brain can only distinguish two individual visual events, with respect to time, if they occur more than about 25 milliseconds (0.025 second) apart. Since, in normal people, the signals from the eyes, through the two optic nerves, arrive at the brain and are processed well within this time interval, the brain interprets them (properly) as two slightly different views of the same scene, giving us the impression of a single event, which includes depth perception.

Let's consider if a person had a physiological impairment in one optical signal path, such that one optic signal arrived at the brain more than the 0.025 second after the other. The brain would not necessarily know it to be the same scene and might interpret it as the Deja Vu phenomenon. An alternative way this could occur would be that the optic processing centers of part of the brain had a flaw or temporary impairment (maybe electrolyte imbalance or other biochemical deviation) that caused a delay in processing one of the signal trains.

Such an impairment could be a congenital condition, in either the optic nerve or the brain. It could also be a temporary condition due to a viral infection or an injury effect or from any other cause.

The brain's processing of optic information is actually far more complicated than this, but the basic premise can still apply. The terminal ends of the optic nerves arrive at the optic chiasma, where half of the fibers from each eye cross over to the other hemisphere. The thalamus is then involved to get the signals to the primary visual cortex in the occipital lobe. However, the premise of a signal delay in either optic nerve, or in the brain hemisphere's processing of the signals it has to work with, or in the corpus callosum, is still valid. Whether the 'raw' data in the optic nerve is delayed or the brain's processed image is delayed, the result would be two separate images arriving at the memory, at slightly different times. If that time differential is great enough, the only noticeable result could be a Deja Vu experience.

Hypothesis B

Recently, (late 2001) I have become aware of the research being done by Vilayanur Ramachandran. In his investigations of the so-called "blind sight" condition, he has discovered something that seems to fit in well with this premise. Blind-sight is a rare condition where an individual is completely unable to see at all, and yet seems to experience awareness of some things that could only occur due to sight. Dr. Ramachandran has discovered that humans actually have TWO totally separate brain processing methods regarding visual information.

His research has indicated that the thalamus-centered pathway mentioned above is the standard processing method that our brains use today. However, he has found that there is a second, much more "primitive" processing method for visual information in the brain. He interprets this brainstem-centered as an earlier evolutionary stage of vision, which has largely been overshadowed by the newer thalamus-centered pathway.

I find his research into blind-sight quite interesting, but I see an additional possibility. IF the newer thalamus-centered pathway has taken over because of higher efficiency (a seemingly reasonable conjecture) in order to better react to more complex and changing environments that humans found themselves in, then it seems possible that this suggested higher efficiency might be associated with a quicker processing time for the visual information.

This could easily then imply that the newer thalamus-centered pathway might be more than 0.025 second faster in processing time than the older brainstem-centered pathway. Thus, in individuals where the older pathway is still relatively active, the brain could then receive two images of a scene, which it would interpret as separate experiences, as described above.

In this case, individuals who have substantial functional activity in the brainstem-centered pathway could very regularly experience the deja vu phenomenon. Individuals with lesser functionality of that pathway might only experience rare deja vu events. This would imply that most individuals probably have very well developed thalamus-centered pathways, where the brainstem-centered pathway has greatly degraded due to lack of use, and they would never experience deja vu.

A slight variation of this could involve the timing delay involved. If, in most individuals, both pathways were well functional, but where the two sets of visual information arrives at the cortex within the 0.025 second time interval, the brain would perceive it as a single event, and everything would seem normal. If such individuals had slightly longer time differentials, say 0.026 second, they could have a vague awareness of deja vu type sensations, while individuals who had longer still time differentials could conceivably almost continuously experience deja vu. For such individuals, and possibly for the rest of us as well, it seems likely that as very small children, if such confusing situations initially existed, the baby's brain would soon establish that "time-window" of 0.025 second or whatever else was necessary in order to allow the world to appear logical. And so, there are probably no (surviving!) individuals who continuously experience deja vu, but such people with unusually long time differentials might be especially subject to having occasional deja vu experiences, especially in moments of emotion or rapid activity.

I have noticed a phenomenon that seems to support this conjecture. During late dusk, when the (clear) sky was still barely lighted, I regularly drove past a radio transmitting tower. At the top of it was mounted a white strobe light, for warning to low flying aircraft. The physics of how a strobe light works is important here. A capacitor gradually charges up electrically. Once there is enough charge in the capacitor, it is possible to suddenly discharge all of the accumulated charge to the strobe light, which then creates a SINGLE, extremely bright, extremely brief, flash of light. It is NOT possible for a normal strobe light to rapidly flash twice, since the capacitor needs time to recharge. The flash length is VERY brief, on the order of a millionth (0.000001) of a second.

One time as I approached this tower, I happened to notice an interesting looking bird flying across the sky in front of the tower. As I panned across, focused on and watching the bird fly across, the strobe light flashed. I was aware of the sensation of two distinct flashes! Since I knew that this was physically impossible for the strobe light to do, I was puzzled for quite some time. I later tried to duplicate the experiment. At other times of the day or night, there was minimal success, but at dusk, the phenomenon was often easily repeatable and noticeable.

If no bird was present, the phenomenon while panning across was also often easily obvious, but there might be a mundane explanation for that situation. It is easily reasonable that without a specific focus of attention, while panning, the two eyes might not be directed in the same direction (They might not track together). If that were the case, it could appear that a single actual flash might appear as though there were two discrete flashes (not at different times, but in different apparent locations) due to the eyes being momentarily pointed in different directions. When a bird was present, I believe this possible explanation is eliminated. The existence of the bird certainly causes both eyes to register together on it. Since both eyes are then looking in the exact same direction, the only apparently remaining explanation for the apparent appearance of two flashes where only one could have actually occurred seems to be by the process described above, where the two optic pathways to and in the brain have different response times, thereby slightly delaying the processing of the optic information received by one of the eyes (or the brainstem-centered pathway) until the head had panned to a different location. The strobe could not actually have flashed twice, and this seems to be the only remaining explanation for the sensation of two flashes.

Several possible follow-up studies seem to be available.


A possible way to prove or disprove this premise would be to survey a large number of people who have experienced the Deja Vu phenomenon and check if any of them only have sight in one eye. Whether due to accident or illness, if only one eye sends a signal to the brain to be processed, my initial premise implies that Deja Vu could not occur. If even a single one-eyed person experienced the deja vu phenomenon, that would suggest that that premise may be erroneous. If the sample is large enough, and there are NO one-eyed people that have ever experienced the Deja Vu phenomenon, statistical support might be established for this premise.

If any one-eyed people experienced deja vu, that would seem to imply that the second (thalamus vs. brainstem) premise would apply instead.

(Note: October 2005. A person who has long had a permanent physical flaw in one eye has described what seem to be valid deja vu experiences. He has described having MANY of them, which has never otherwise been credibly claimed, so I am not completely sure about this. The fact that deja vu experiences can never be confirmed or proven false by anyone other than the person experiencing them, is a real complication in such cases. But if he is correct, then my theory would have to be wrong, as there are not two separate optical paths operating in him.

Experimental - Low-Expense

A volunteer is seated along one wall of a dimly lit room, which has very plain walls (no patterned wallpaper, no hanging pictures, no furniture along the opposite wall of the room. Just in front of that opposite wall, a horizontal four-foot long rod acts as a radius arm, with one end attached to a vertical rotating shaft and the other (free) end supporting a small, dim light bulb, like the small version of Christmas lights, or a grain-of-wheat light bulb. As the shaft rotates, the small, dim light bulb moves in a large horizontal circle, which has a four-foot radius. If the shaft turns once every two seconds (30 rpm), the bulb will be traveling at about 12.5 fps (about 8 mph). It will move one inch in about 0.0065 second. This moving light is meant to be the center of attention of the viewer's eyes, so that the vision will track the moving light.

From the volunteer's perspective (in the plane of that motion), the light will appear to move horizontally back and forth. As the radius arm crosses the point nearest the volunteer, it triggers a switch that flashes a fixed position strobe light a few inches below where the small moving light then happens to be.

In one experiment, related to the first premise, the volunteer would wear a pair of glasses similar to one type of 3-D glasses, where one lens (RIGHT) is red and the other (LEFT) is green.

This is how the experiment would be performed. The volunteer would follow the movement of the moving dim light, usually by "panning" the head back and forth. When the strobe flashes, the volunteer's brain will receive two images of the strobe, one reddish and one greenish. If the two signal paths are identical, to within about 0.001 second, the brain will receive both images simultaneously and the light will be perceived as a single white (red + green) light. However, if either optical signal path is delayed in the optic nerve (as compared to the other), the observer would see two separated images, one red and one green. If the delay was about the 0.025 second mentioned earlier, the two images would appear to be around 4" apart (because the viewer's center of attention is panning at one inch during each 0.0065 second). The observer would see two images, somewhat duplicating the effect I witnessed with that strobe tower and the bird.

The explanation is as follows. The brain knows that the two eyes are registering together, because of following the dim moving light. The actual light entering the lenses of the eyes, strikes specific rods or cones, identical to how the system works every moment of every day. However, while the 'slower' processing is still occurring (after the 'faster' signal has been processed, the volunteer's head will have rotated due to the fast panning action. Now, if there were background guides or patterns or benchmarks, the brain would recognize the similarity of the two images and laterally adjust the images to align, during the processing action. Again, this occurs all the time for us, in the instant before our eyes can adjust their tracking of moving scenes at different distances from us. But, without such necessary background clues (a plain background), the brain has no way to make such a 'software' adjustment. The result is that the vision's attention remains following the moving light (bird) yet the brain knew which rods or cones were stimulated, and it knows what direction those rods or cones NOW represent (after the slight turning of the head), so the delayed image seems to appear in a location shifted horizontally from where it actually should appear. The amount of that horizontal shift is directly proportional to the difference of time or signal processing for the two eyes and also directly proportional to the rate of panning of the head.

The dim moving light in the experimental apparatus establishes and defines the panning rate, so the horizontal shift would be exactly proportional to the processing time difference we seek. The horizontal shift would be identified by the volunteer seeing two separate strobe flashes (one red and one green) which appeared to be a certain distance apart. If the red and green flashes appeared to be one inch apart, that would imply a differential time of 0.0065 second (with the apparatus as described above). They appear to seem simultaneous, but they are separated in distance due to the panning of the head. If the red and green images appeared four inches apart, that would represent 0.025 second, approximately the time distinction threshold of the brain. This might then be implied as a method of distinguishing people who could have the Deja Vu phenomenon and those who could not.

This simple experiment also has value regarding the second premise. If the effect should be due to a thalamus vs. brainstem time differential, our observer with the colored glasses would always see white images, but still possibly two. Now, the apparent separation of the two would represent the time differential between the two processing pathways in the brain. Again, the premise here is that, by the time the second set of information is received into cortical memory, with no obvious background identifying information, the brain would use the direction of visual attention AT THAT INSTANT (actually due to the other processing pathway!) to try to determine exactly where it actually was, and so it would appear shifted off to the side, as before.

Given the variability of life structures, it seems certain that some amount of this time differential must be present in all of us, whichever of the two premises might be valid. It is inconceivable that both images always arrive at and are then processed by the brain and then placed in cortical memory at the same nano-second. The only question that remains is just how large those differences are in various people, and whether they are ever large enough to explain the experience of the Deja Vu phenomenon.

This experiment has additional value. If two flashes are seen but they are not necessarily red and green, but nearly white, this still supports this premise of explanation for the Deja Vu phenomenon, but it might imply that much of the delay occurred in the brain processing. Since each hemisphere of the brain receives optic signals from both eyes, a delay here would delay both the red and green image processing (in that hemisphere) resulting in a basically white image that is shifted from the white image from the faster hemisphere. In other words, slightly tinted red and green images might suggest the first premise, and even suggest the proportion of delay attributable to the optic pate and the brain processing. (The second premise should always cause completely white images.)

In the first premise, if experimental results show that the two 'whitish' images could be distinguished somehow by the volunteer (maybe by colored fringes on the leading and trailing edges), another area of knowledge could be gained. If the image processed by the right hemisphere is always behind that processed by the left hemisphere (in right-handed people), that also supports the general concept suggested here but also implies that there might be a specific mechanism responsible for the delay, and might be associated with the corpus callosum. Such a consistent pattern would be different from that seen due to individual differences in the optic nerves (or diseases they might experience) [distinctly red and green images] or in the visual cortex [white identical images]. Such a preference would seem to only be possible if a major part of the recorded delay is due to the passage of the processed signal from the visual cortex in the non-preferred hemisphere, through the corpus callosum, to the preferred hemisphere. If such a pattern of results is noted, an analysis might establish the actual signal transfer speed between the hemispheres through the corpus callosum. (I am not familiar with any research that has examined that.) On the other hand, if the results show no such preference pattern, the implication is that the corpus callosum processing is faster than the error factor of the experiment.

Experimental - High-Expense

An extensive EEG monitoring of brain activity would be used. Only a single, fixed strobe light would be used. The EEG output would need to be either extremely high speed paper or a dual-trace oscilloscope. With the normal paper speed of EEG equipment, the few millisecond differences we are looking for would be unnoticed. Either a high-speed paper output or a dual-trace oscilloscope could display and quantify the time differentials involved. Identifying the two separate traces would allow all of the above analysis including the possible contribution by the corpus callosum activity. The time differences could be established much more accurately than by the subjective opinion of the volunteer as to how many inches apart the two images appeared to be.

Such experiments might also shed light on apparent feedback loops that seem to occur in the brain. Conditions like Epilepsy and Parkinson tremors may represent a signal processing situation where a delay is somehow included, as in the premise above regarding the Deja Vu phenomenon. Possibly, without such a delay, the brain would sense a single stimulus and react normally, but if a delay appeared in the processing action, the brain might perceive two or more separate stimuli, and then activate muscles in convulsive tremors.

There is a peculiar thing in my own experience that is not Deja Vu, but nor does it seem to be any other phenomenon that I have ever heard of. I guess it might qualify for an odd version of a Precognition.

I am open to any assistance to locate what should be really easy to find evidence!

George W. Bush became President in January 2001. I didn't think he seemed especially smart but otherwise I had no opinion of him good or bad. But then during June of 2001 I was with a couple friends visiting while a TV was on. There was a TV interview of George W Bush, in itself a rather rare incident. In THAT conversation with some reporter on a National Network, we all heard Bush say regarding Saddam "He tried to kill my daddy!" I immediately said "My God! We are going to attack Iraq!" And then all three of us laughed about a President referring to his "daddy" as really a strange thing to say in that way.

Notice that this was THREE MONTHS BEFORE the 9/11 attacks. Within a few days of 9/11, Cheney and Bush were already referring to invading Iraq, and reporters would ask, "Did Iraq even have anything to do with the 9/11 attacks?" Of course, they didn't.

OK. None of this should seem strange, right?

EXCEPT for the fact that news reports of more than a year later (2002) are the first ones that seem to be findable on the Internet, which refer to a slightly different wording of the "daddy" comment.

SO! Did my friends and I see some event that never actually happened in June of 2001? It seems inconceivable that the Internet would not have both a transcript and the actual Network video of something as rare as a televised News Interview of President Bush (NOT a Press Conference). I don't see how it could have gotten DELETED from all records! I could easily imagine that the Bush people would have wanted to delete it, but I cannot imagine any of the News Networks agreeing to do that.

It seems fairly certain that the interview was with either ABC News, NBC News, CBS News or FOX, as I don't think I watched any other networks at the time. (I later added the BBC News to my interest.) (I admit that someone else might have turned on that TV and it may have been some other network.)

Now, I KNOW that interview occurred, and so do my friends! But IF that interview occurred, how could it be possible that no one else seems to be aware of it? There couldn't have been ten Presidential Interviews in all of 2001! But, IF such an interview had not really ever happened, how could the three of us have discussed it? And how could I/we have already known when the comment was repeated late in 2002?

I suppose this is not a world-shaking problem, as it may just be something inside my brain and those of a couple friends! However, IF that interview actually took place, the implications are incredible. The fact that comment was made BEFORE 9/11 really made extremely clear to me that Bush really was hoping for some excuse to invade Iraq, and 9/11 then just happened to provide it. However, if my memory was totally wrong (which for a research Nuclear Physicist would be rather unusual!), and the findable references were correct, then Bush seemed to just be adding to an existing (alleged) WMD issue with his personal feelings a year afterward. That is incredibly different!

So, if there is anyone who can figure out how to find any record of a rather rare Presidential Interview in June 2001 on a major Network, I feel that I can guarantee that that interview contains the exact sentence, rather casually said: "He tried to kill my daddy." I also remember that the reporter had a very surprised expression, while Bush had essentially none, except that strange smile he usually has.

I would really appreciate if anyone can confirm this either way! If it can be confirmed that Bush gave NO individual interviews in June 2001, I guess I would have to accept it. Except I and others SAW it

I guess while I am on this sort of thing, there is another thing I saw that I guarantee that I actually saw! Nothing weird here, just a little bothersome. And it has absolutely NOTHING to do with Deja vu! There is a product that started being advertised for men to grow hair, called Rogaine, in the early 1990s. It achieved some success (and is still being sold). Around 1995 or 1996, they clearly decided to start advertising to women, to try to sell even more products. Here's the interesting part. For maybe a little over a month, the new ads included a statement where women were losing hair BECAUSE OF THE STRENGTH OF SHAMPOOS. I remember thinking, wow, the shampoo industry can NOT be pleased with that! But I think they were actually noting that long ago, virtually no woman lost her hair, that virtually all women still had all their hair in extremely old age. It was even called "male pattern baldness" because it only happened to men!

Well, now, that concept was quite interesting! Clearly, they had only invested hundreds of thousands of dollars for the new advertising toward women if they KNEW that there was a large enough market, that is, that a lot of women were now losing their hair! You can probably figure that those ads quickly disappeared from all TV advertising, and a different reason was put in its place, that of a genetic disposition because a woman's mother had been susceptible to losing her hair. However, this new reason seemed rather silly, as virtually no older women had ever lost much hair, until fairly recently.

SOOOO! Does this mean that their initial ads were correct? That women are now losing hair because the modern hair care products they buy are so strong? If so, shouldn't women be provided this information? However, we note that the sales of billions of dollars of hair care products would plummet! Are the ethics of modern business so profit-centered that they are willing to cause millions of women to lose their hair just to get greater profits in hair care products? Boy, I hope not, but I wonder!

Specifically, I discovered that there seems to be no record of those early TV ads that exist anywhere, nor even any reference to any such thing. There is little doubt that the hair care corportations would have tried to delete that from history. Did they succeed? As far as I can tell, they did!

The implications of both these things are really terrifying. Can our government or a giant corporation really totally delete some undesirable incident from the entire world's memory and knowledge? If so, we should all really be very, very scared!

So, if someone with far better Internet search skills than me can locate references to these two things, I would be greatly comforted!

Now, some people seem to read this as though I am some sort of "conspiracy theorist". That is NOT the case! I really have no personal reason for thinking such things go one way or another. But as a good scientific researcher, I do NOT EVER rely on speculations or silly concepts, but instead always attempt to pursue whatever is the actual truth in any situation. When things "don't seem to add up right", I tend to notice such lack of logic and I try to investigate. If somebody would get reliable evidence that gravity sometimes did not work right, I would be similarly interested in investigating!

Some additional comments will be added here, primarily to show how scientific research progresses. It turns out that the great majority of scientific experiments tend to prove that some hypothesis or theory is WRONG rather than right! Non-scientists do not seem to realize that! But that is progress, in a scientific sense. When Edison kept finding hundreds and hundreds of failures as he was trying to develop the light bulb, he kept eliminating wrong directions and gradually wound up narrowing it down to an approach that eventually resulted in the light bulb. If Edison had given up after the first failure, or the hundredth failure, or the eight-hundredth failure, we might not have light bulbs today!

Regarding this premise (of the different optical path lengths for the two eyes), there are two recent additions. there have been three e-mails received that seemed especially interesting. Two of the three said that they were born with just one functioning eye, and the third is the one already mentioned above. Those three people each presented credible descriptions where they feel that they had Deja vu experiences. If so, then my theory must certainly be either wrong or incomplete. However, noting that a truly remarkably few people seem to have ever actually had Deja vu experiences, I wish there was some way to actually confirm that these three had! It just seems really remarkable that the three of them would have had the experience, while virtually all other humans never have it.

There is actually another area that is even more compelling. We noted above that the brain only senses two experiences as distinct if the sensation arrives more than 0.025 second apart. I have not found the specific speed of propagation of optic signals along the optic nerves, but in general, nerve signals travel through our nervous system at around 200 mph or 300 ft/sec. In order for a mechanically different path length to be responsible for a differential of 0.025 second, that path would have to be about 7.5 feet longer for one eye than the other! So a MECHANICALLY different path length is not realistic. However, much of the speed of the passage of a nerve impulse is involved in the chemical events that occur at, around and in the synapse where the signal is transferred from one nerve to the next. If there were still to be any value in my hypothesis, it would have to be in a flaw in the synapse structure related to one eye, where signals could be delayed long enough to account for the 0.025 second. A significantly different local chemical environment might materially speed up or slow down the transmission of such nerve impulses by that amount of time. It could also happen irregularly as the chemical environment might change, maybe even due to specific foods eaten???

C Johnson, Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago

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