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March 26, 2016
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1 Introduction
deja vu



D??j?? vu (, meaning "already seen") is the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation, even though the exact circumstances of the previous encounter are uncertain and were perhaps imagined. The term was coined by a French psychic researcher, ??mile Boirac (1851???1917) in his book L'Avenir des sciences psychiques ("The Future of Psychic Sciences"), which expanded upon an essay he wrote while an undergraduate. The experience of d??j?? vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and also a sense of "eeriness," "strangeness," "weirdness," or what Sigmund Freud calls "the uncanny." The "previous" experience is most frequently attributed to a dream, although in some cases there is a firm sense that the experience has genuinely happened in the past.

The experience of d??j?? vu seems to be quite common among adults and children alike. References to the experience of d??j?? vu are found in literature of the past, indicating it is not a new phenomenon. It has been extremely difficult to evoke the d??j?? vu experience in laboratory settings, therefore making it a subject of few empirical studies. Certain researchers claim to have found ways to recreate this sensation using hypnosis.

Since the first years, d??j?? vu has been subject to serious psychological and neurophysiological research. Scientifically speaking, the most likely explanation of d??j?? vu is not that it is an act of "precognition" or "prophecy," but rather that it is an anomaly of memory, giving the impression that an experience is "being recalled."

This explanation is substantiated by the fact that the sense of "recollection" at the time is strong in most cases, but that the circumstances of the "previous" experience (when, where, and how the earlier experience occurred) are quite uncertain. Likewise, as time passes, subjects can exhibit a strong recollection of having the "unsettling" experience of d??j?? vu itself, but little or no recollection of the specifics of the event(s) or circumstance(s) they were "remembering" when they had the d??j?? vu experience. In particular, this may result from an overlap between the neurological systems responsible for short-term memory and those responsible for long-term memory (events which are perceived as being in the past). The events would be stored into memory before the conscious part of the brain even receives the information and processes it.

Another theory being explored is that of vision. The theory suggests that one eye may record what is seen fractionally faster than the other, creating the "strong recollection" sensation upon the "same" scene being viewed milliseconds later by the opposite eye. However, this theory fails to explain the phenomenon when other sensory inputs are involved, such as hearing or touch. If one, for instance, experiences d??j?? vu of someone slapping the fingers on his left hand, then the d??j?? vu feeling is certainly not due to his right hand experiencing the same sensation later than his left hand considering that his right hand would never receive the same sensory input. Also, people with only one eye still report experiencing d??j?? vu or d??j?? v??cu (a rare disorder of memory, similar to persistent d??j?? vu). The global phenomenon must therefore be narrowed down to the brain itself (i.e., one hemisphere being late compared to the other one).

Links with disorders

Early researchers tried to establish a link between d??j?? vu and serious psychopathology such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and dissociative identity disorder, with hopes of finding the experience of some diagnostic value. However, there does not seem to be any special association between d??j?? vu and schizophrenia or other psychiatric conditions. This correlation has led some researchers to speculate that the experience of d??j?? vu is possibly a neurological anomaly related to improper electrical discharge in the brain. As most people suffer a mild (i.e. non-pathological) epileptic episode regularly (e.g. a hypnagogic jerk , the sudden "jolt" that frequently, but not always, occurs just prior to falling asleep), it is conjectured that a similar (mild) neurological aberration occurs in the experience of d??j?? vu, resulting in an erroneous sensation of memory. For someone who regularly has such seizures, there is typically a feeling of d??j?? vu associated with whatever sensations (particularly sounds) may be occurring nearby.


It has been reported that certain drugs increase the chances of d??j?? vu occurring in the user. Some pharmaceutical drugs, when taken together, have also been implicated in the cause of d??j?? vu. Taiminen and J????skel??inen (2001) reported the case of an otherwise healthy male who started experiencing intense and recurrent sensations of d??j?? vu upon taking the drugs amantadine and phenylpropanolamine together to relieve flu symptoms. He found the experience so interesting that he completed the full course of his treatment and reported it to the psychologists to write up as a case study. Due to the dopaminergic action of the drugs and previous findings from electrode stimulation of the brain (e.g. Bancaud, Brunet-Bourgin, Chauvel, & Halgren, 1994.) Taiminen and J????skel??inen speculate that d??j?? vu occurs as a result of hyperdopaminergic action in the mesial temporal areas of the brain. Many scientists are still working towards the actual link of d??j?? vu with hypnagogic epilepsy.

Memory-based explanations

The similarity between a d??j??-vu-eliciting stimulus and an existing, but different, memory trace may lead to the sensation. used hypnosis to give participants posthypnotic amnesia for material they had already seen. When this was later re-encountered, the restricted activation caused thereafter by the posthypnotic amnesia resulted in three of the 10 participants reporting what the authors termed "paramnesias." Memory-based explanations may lead to the development of a number of non-invasive experimental methods by which a long sought-after analogue of d??j?? vu can be reliably produced that would allow it to be tested under well-controlled experimental conditions. Cleary suggests that d??j?? vu may be a form of familiarity-based recognition (recognition that is based on a feeling of familiarity with a situation) and that laboratory methods of probing familiarity-based recognition hold promise for probing d??j?? vu in laboratory settings. Another possible explanation for the phenomenon of d??j?? vu is the occurrence of " cryptamnesia ", which is where information learned is forgotten but nevertheless stored in the brain, and similar occurrences invoke the contained knowledge, leading to a feeling of familiarity because of the situation, event or emotional/vocal content, known as "d??j?? vu".

Jamais vu

Jamais vu (from French, meaning "never seen") is a term in psychology which is used to describe any familiar situation which is not recognized by the observer.

Often described as the opposite of d??j?? vu, jamais vu involves a sense of eeriness and the observer's impression of seeing the situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing that he or she has been in the situation before.

Jamais vu is more commonly explained as when a person momentarily does not recognize a word, person, or place that they already know.

Jamais vu is sometimes associated with certain types of amnesia and epilepsy.

Theoretically, as seen below, a jamais vu feeling in a sufferer of a delirious disorder or intoxication could result in a delirious explanation of it, such as in the Capgras delusion, in which the patient takes a person known by him/her for a false double or impostor. If the impostor is himself, the clinical setting would be the same as the one described as depersonalisation, hence jamais vus of oneself or of the very "reality of reality", are termed depersonalisation (or surreality) feelings.

Times Online reports:

Presque vu (Tip of Tongue)

D??j?? vu is similar to, but distinct from, the phenomenon called tip of the tongue which is when one cannot recall a familiar word or name or situation, but with effort one eventually recalls the elusive memory. In contrast, d??j?? vu is a feeling that the present situation has occurred before, but the details are elusive because the situation never happened before.

Presque vu (from French, meaning "almost seen") is the sensation of being on the brink of an epiphany . Often very disorienting and distracting, presque vu rarely leads to an actual breakthrough. Frequently, one experiencing presque vu will say that they have something "on the tip of my tongue".

Presque vu is often cited by people who suffer from epilepsy or other seizure-related brain conditions, such as temporal lobe lability.

  • In the 1999 film The Matrix, Keanu Reeves's character, Neo , learns that d??j?? vu is a "glitch" that occurs when the enemy machines alter an aspect of the Matrix, a digital reality in which all the inhabitants believe that they are living in the real world. This is seen when the protagonist, Neo, sees a black cat walk by twice.

  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld series there is 'd??j?? vu squared' - the feeling that someone has had d??j?? vu before, understandably quite disconcerting.

  • In Don DeLillo's novel White Noise , d??j?? vu is among a list of possible symptoms of exposure to the Airborne Toxic Event, and as such is experienced by several characters.

  • In the television series Fringe , D??j?? vu is a brief glimpse of an alternative reality. The person feels like they have been somewhere before because they actually have been there in another reality.

  • In the Disney Channel original series Wizards Of Waverly Place, non wizards experience d??j?? vu when a Wizard uses McReary Timereary, a time rewind spell.

  • See also the film Deja Vu starring Denzel Washington

  • In the episode " Cause and Effect," the characters are (unknowingly) stuck in a time loop and seem to experience excessive instances of d??j?? vu regarding what they will learn are real events that happened in previous iterations of the loop; however, a character is able to record mysterious voices she hears, indicating that the experiences are not merely psychological d??j?? vu. They are able to end the loop after they develop a method to transmit an intelligible message to themselves in the next iteration.

  • In Joseph Heller's Catch-22, the chaplain is fascinated by d??j?? vu. The novel also discusses presque vu and jamais vu.

  • In the series Charmed, Phoebe Halliwell experiences d??j?? vu when time has been rewound, eventually being able to remember the past fully. As seen in S01 E22 "Deja Vu All Over Again" .

  • In the anime series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya episodes Endless Eight, Haruhi and the gang are stuck in an endless time loop, because Haruhi simply doesn't want summer to end, and is subconsciously controlling the time loop. The others experience a d??j?? vu, and have been called to attention after more than 15,000 loops. As Haruhi walks out the door of the last summer meeting, she feels that deep down, she is not satisfied with her summer activities. The time loop would continue a good number of times again, and Kyon would go to bed without finishing his homework.

  • Yogi Berra, a baseball player and manager known for interesting quotations called "Yogiisms", famously said after watching Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris hit back-to-back home runs multiple times, "It's d??j?? vu all over again."

  • Comedian George Carlin would often say, on stage, that he was experiencing "vuja de," which he would then explain was the phenomenon of feeling like none of this has ever happened before, and just like that, it's gone.

  • Anamnesis

  • Capgras delusion

  • Intuition (knowledge)

  • Jamais vu

  • Phenomenon

  • Precognition

  • Psychology

  • Presque vu

  • Rapport congruency

  • Uncanny

  • Chronic d??j?? vu - quirks and quarks episode (mp3)

  • A new theory that links d??j?? vu to Near-Death Experience — by Anthony Peake, 2006.

  • The Skeptic's Dictionary

  • How D??j?? Vu Works — a Howstuffworks article

  • D??j?? Experience Research — a website dedicated to providing d??j?? experience information and research

  • Nikhil Swaminathan, Think You've Previously Read About This? Scientific American June 8, 2007

  • Deberoh Halber, Research Deciphers Deju-Vu Brain Mechanics MIT Report June 7, 2007

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "deja vu".

Last Modified:   2010-11-25

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