We’ve all had that bizarre I-swear-I’ve-been-here-before feeling at some point. Déjà vu is still a pretty mysterious phenomenon, but researchers are working at figure it out. And even though it can feel freaky, it turns out it might actually be a good thing. So what’s actually happening when you get that weird feeling? There are a couple of different theories about the way déjà vu works, but essentially, it goes like this: You’ve seen something that was deemed inconsequential, such as a stranger’s face on the subway, so you “forgot” it. Then, later, you might see someone else who looks very similar to that first person and you get a sense of eerie familiarity, but you’re not really sure why because you don’t readily remember the first person. It’s almost like your memory is too good, but the result is actually a false memory — you’re confusing the second face for the first.
Another theory, called “double perception,” suggests that we’re actually seeing the same thing twice, but we didn’t really register it the first time. Maybe you walk into a new restaurant to meet some friends, but you glance down at your phone to check a text as soon as you get inside. So you did see the layout of the restaurant, but you were immediately distracted. Then, when you look up from your phone, you see it again but it feels like the first time — with a weird sense of having seen it before. As they still figuring out exactly what’s going on when you get déjà vu, but it’s safe to say it’s not a glitch in the Matrix!