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Title: States of awareness and recognition : insights from deja vu
Author: O'Connor, Akira Robert
ISNI:       0000 0001 3451 9159
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2007
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Recognition occurs with the awareness that a perceived stimulus has been perceived before. This awareness is typically an accurate representation of true recognition, but it can occasionally be misleading. This thesis explores deja vu from the viewpoint that it is an error ofrecognition memory. The experience·of deja vu is characterised by the juxtaposition of two conscious states of awareness, objective unfamiliarity and subjective familiarity (Brown, 2004). This dissociation was used as the theoretical basis for the investigation of the deja vu experience. Three approaches were taken: the investigation of individual differences in measures of memory associated with deja vu; the development of experimental analogues of the experience; and the study of three cases with unusual presentations of the experience. In the investigation of individual differences associated with deja vu occurrence (Experiment 1), it was anticipated that people reporting a high frequency of deja vu occurrence would display a pattern of recollective experience paradigm recognition characterised by familiarity (F) for false positives. Although no difference in F was found when high and low deja vu subgroups were compared, a positive correlation between F and deja vu occurrence was found in all participants. Three experimental analogues of deja vu were then developed (Experiments 2, 3, 4, & 5) using posthypnotic amnesia (PHA), posthypnotic familiarity (PHF), and the mere exposure paradigm (Experiment 6). Differences in quantitative measures of memory were not found to be associated with participants who reported deja vu as a result of the procedures, or with individual stimuli eliciting the sensation. Additionally, participants experienced deja vu for both experimental and distracter stimuli, suggesting that deja vu may be experienced as an overarching cognitive feeling rather than a state of memory associated with individual stimuli. In phenomenological analyses of participants' experiences of the analogues,the PHF procedure was most likely to elicit spontaneous comparison with deja vu. Finally, the three cases reported deja vu in a blind man, deja vu in a man with epilepsy and a manifestation of deja vu characterised by recoliection and behavioural change (deja vecu) in an elderly man (Chapter 6). The experiments and cases in this thesis produced results which were consistent with Brown's definition of deja vu. It is asubjective experience of familiarity juxtaposed with an objective unfamiliarity. In addition, this thesis produced novel findings which indicate that deja vu is a top-down memory error, and a novel theoretical framework is used to asses deja vu, specifically the involvement of an overarching metacognitive correction process (Koriat, 2006). The experiments also raised questions as to the dissociation characterising the deja vu experience, the formation and perpetuation of the experience, and the role played by additional factors such as ' stimulus novelty and the metacognitive correction process involved in the experience. Deja vu isa memory failure typified by a sensation of familiarity corrected in favour of an objective assessment of novelty. The mechanisms of deja vu have been elucidated by the use of standard memory paradigms, such as recollective experience (Tulving, 1985).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available