Actually, you don’t — you just think you do. A pair of researchers form Colorado State Researchers dug into the feeling of premonition that often accompanies déjà vu, using lab experiments that tried to induce the sensation and tracked whether subjects really did know what would come next. As it turns out, déjà vu didn’t seem to bestow the ability to predict the future.
“The results suggest that feelings of premonition during déjà vu occur and can be illusory,” writes the study’s first author, Anne Cleary, in the study published in the journal Psychological Science.
Scientists are still trying to wrap their heads around déjà vu. They know that the phenomenon is connected to memory, and they it often comes with that prickly feeling of premonition.
The researchers had their subjects navigate a three-dimensional world in a sort of first-person VR game. The scenes varied in appearance, and some of them required the same path through, like the same maze rendered with different-looking walls. They wanted to know if, after viewing a previous scene, the subjects would experience déjà vu, feel like they could predict where to turn next at some critical point, or correctly predict what happened next.
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