Has Lockdown Life Evoked the Sensation of Jamais Vu?

Has Lockdown Life Evoked the Sensation of Jamais Vu?


After two years of lockdown, a lot of conferences and conventions resumed holding stay conferences this yr. These afforded the attendees with alternatives to reconnect in particular person and spend time with mates, colleagues, and fellow professionals. All through one conference this spring, I stored listening to individuals touch upon how simply they fell into the identical rhythms with others and but how paradoxically odd all of it felt, each acquainted and unfamiliar. Particular results wizard Fon Davis, whose expertise contains engaged on The Nightmare Earlier than Christmas and numerous Star Wars movies, puzzled why this could be, and he recommended that neurological adjustments that had developed over the earlier two years may account for a few of that. It is a sensible query.

Expertise has been proven to change neural pathways. We regularly consider neuroplasticity because the mind’s potential to “rewire” itself after damage (Sebastianelli et al., 2017) as new connections kind and unhurt elements might start to take over capabilities beforehand carried out by these now injured. What’s damage, although? Would two years of neglect and lowered exercise in sure areas as a result of lockdown and social isolation rely as damage on this sense? Even with out damage, may it’s that the areas experiencing lowered exercise change in different methods throughout that point – for instance, by reassigning some neurons to no matter new routines started to switch previous ones? In that case, returning to a earlier state of affairs may activate the connections that stay in place whereas failing to activate synapses which have been reassigned, so to talk.

Pondering of neuroplasticity as “the mind’s capability to proceed rising and evolving in response to life experiences” no matter damage could also be extra helpful in addition to extra goal. The mind may activate conflicting patterns, parts of each previous expertise and new.

Wikimedia Commons, Gray's Anatomy, vectorized by Mysid, colored by was_a_bee, public domain.

Temporal lobe.

Supply: Wikimedia Commons, Grey’s Anatomy, vectorized by Mysid, coloured by was_a_bee, public area.

Might such neuroplasticity account for the extraordinary emotions of alienness that individuals typically expertise upon returning to previous routines and conditions? Versus the better-known phenomenon déjà vu (“seen earlier than”), through which a state of affairs feels unusually acquainted although it mustn’t, jamais vu (“by no means seen”) arises when one thing we all know to be acquainted appears subjectively unfamiliar. It feels “off.” This appears to happen a couple of tenth as typically as déjà vu does and in a single third as many individuals. Each happen extra continuously amongst people who’ve suffered epileptic seizures, notably these related to temporal lobe epilepsy (Illman et al., 2012; Ko & Kuo, 2018; Kusumi et al, 2006; Sengoku et al., 1997). Each experiences change in frequency with age (Brown & Croft, 2011; Walker-Journey, 2022), rising much less widespread, however it’s not recognized whether or not that occurs due to age-related deficits with age or just because expertise, studying, and crystallized intelligence usually enhance. Mind adjustments are likely to get studied after the actual fact more often than not, limiting researcher’s potential to look at the causes of sure phenomena.

Students wrestle to clarify each, particularly jamais vu (Findler, 1998; Ko & Kuo, 2018). Not solely is jamais vu the much less widespread phenomenon, it’s also harder to govern experimentally. Researchers can manipulate configurations of environmental stimuli (Cleary et al, 2012) in addition to the quantity and forms of cues to see how a lot a well-known scene will be altered earlier than a viewer is aware of the scene seems acquainted with out having sufficient data to acknowledge why, and this appears to be one of many major causes that the feeling of déjà vu happens as recognition with out identification (Catling et al, 2021; Cleary & Reyes, 2009; Ryals, 2013).

When environmental cues resemble a earlier setting simply sufficient to make it really feel acquainted although the particular person has by no means been there, a false constructive recognition has occurred. When the acquainted evokes a way of unfamiliarity, a false unfavourable recognition has occurred. The false constructive could also be simpler to review as a result of it’s simpler to check why one thing occurred than why one thing didn’t – akin to how we can’t show the null speculation.

Wikimedia Commons, Marnie Joyce, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

At what level would anybody mistake this man for Santa Claus?

Supply: Wikimedia Commons, Marnie Joyce, Artistic Commons Attribution 2.0.

Yet one more factor performs a task in why two years of lockdown might have brought about acquainted experiences to look “off”: As a result of they’re. Variations each little and huge have modified our circumstances. The world continues to be totally different in some ways. A setting or state of affairs you go to for the primary time in two or three years – say, a household reunion – mixes the sensations of familiarity and unfamiliarity. A household reunion in 2022 can’t precisely match what the reunion was like in 2019 as a result of everybody who’s there may be three years older as a substitute of the same old one yr. If the occasion carries on as if lockdown by no means occurred, with everybody hugging simply and nobody sporting masks, it carries a tinge of recent strangeness as a result of it differs from the brand new norms that developed all through COVID-19 lockdown.

In The Nightmare Earlier than Christmas, the aforementioned Tim Burton movie that Davis labored on, protagonist Jack Skellington impersonates Santa Claus when he needs to expertise the enjoyable and pleasure of Christmas gift-giving. Youngsters all through the world discover the pretend Santa Claus to be unnerving as a result of he will get issues unsuitable in unsubtle methods. Jamais Vu works extra subtly, which will be moreover unnerving after we have no idea why the state of affairs feels unsuitable and we’ve got hassle attempting to articulate our personal emotions.


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