Research on this topic won the anti-Nobel Prize. It is actually a sensation present in some neurological disorders, but which everyone can experience. Especially when the repetitions exceed 30 times
Is called jamais-vu (literally means never seen before) and that strange sensation you get when an image, a word, a person’s face, if looked at for too long, tend to lose their meaning and become momentarily strangers.
It can be considered theopposite of dej-vu (literally already seen), the inappropriate perceptive phenomenon by which a scene that has never actually been seen, a moment of one’s life, the face of a stranger, suddenly takes on the flavor of the already seen, the already known. Of the two, dej-vu is the best known, but a study on jamais-vu which this year was among those awarded the Ig Nobel, is a sort of Anti-Nobel Prize which selects research that seems to have something absurd about it, but which nevertheless has what it takes from a scientific point of view, research that first makes you laugh, then makes you think.
The experiment with words
Jamais-vu can manifest itself with the feeling that a well-known person appears different or strange, says Akira O’Connor of the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, who coordinated the research published in the journal Memory. It can also occur during habitual performances, such as playing an instrument or driving a car. Acts that normally flow repetitively without difficulty, but which can suddenly lose the normal fluidity that characterizes them. But perhaps the most common example concerns words: it can sometimes happen that a word very familiar becomes briefly strange and may inexplicably seem wrong, or appear anomalous when you see it written. In fact, O’Connor’s group carried out his study by having a group of volunteers write words. In a first experiment they had to copy a series of twelve words several times, some very common, such as door, others less common, such as sward (turf), with the instruction to stop when they felt boredom, pain in the hand or some strange feeling.
Common sensation after 30 repetitions
And indeed 70 percent of them he stopped writing the words at a certain point because they had taken on a strange appearance. The phenomenon occurs after one thirty repetitionsespecially with most common words: precisely the jamais-vu phenomenon reproduced in the laboratory. The second experiment instead consisted of repeating the writing of the English article the: in this case too the word lost its meaning in the eyes of the person writing it and the phenomenon occurred on average after 27 repetitions. Experiences that anyone can try to have.
The reasons reported by the participants in the study as to the reasons that led them to interrupt the writing task are also curious, and show the essence of jamais-vu: The words lost their meaning while you looked at them, they told the researchers, it seemed to me losing control of my hand, it all seemed wrong, as if at a certain point that wasn’t even a word anymore and someone wanted to make me think of it as such.
Present in some disorders
The study of jamais-vu and dej-vu is not a psychological curiosity as an end in itself but has the value of knowledge on the functioning modes of the healthy and pathological mind. These phenomena may in fact occur in some cases neurological disorderssuch as epilepsy, especially of the temporal lobe, and migraine, and also in certain mental disorders of a delusional type, such as the sensation of jamais-vu that people affected by Capgras syndrome: in their eyes someone in the family, classically one or both parents, or the husband/wife, begins to appear strange, loses the familiar aspect, and then it becomes reasonable to suspect that he is a kind of double, that he has been replaced by someone who appears physically very similar to your family member but who is actually another person.
Corriere della Sera also on Whatsapp. sufficient click here to subscribe to the channel and always be updated.
January 30, 2024 (changed January 30, 2024 | 08:35)
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED