Psychology – the illusion of having previously experienced something actually being encountered for the first time.
disagreeable familiarity or sameness: The new television season had a sense of déjà vu about it—the same old plots and characters with new names.
[Origin 1900–05 from French: literally ‘already seen’ ]
Déjà vu is a phenomenon that is extremely difficult to study because it’s a spontaneous occurrence and therefore can’t be objectively measured in a lab. There are over 40 theories but none can be proven. The most plausible hypothesis I’ve heard is that it occurs because nerve signals originating from the left and right eyes sometimes arrive in the area of the brain that deals with visual perception slightly out of sync – i.e. one signal is slightly faster – and so your brain registers that it has seen what it is now experiencing at some point before – and because the information hasn’t passed into long-term memory yet, there is just a vague feeling that it’s familiar. I’m not sure if this theory is totally watertight, however.
Yesterday my parents came round to help me sort a few things in my new house. About 5pm I was sitting in my lounge, admiring how clean and tidy it looked, my dad was sitting on the other sofa reading, and my mum asked me a question from the kitchen (where she was still cleaning something) where something was, and I experienced déjà vu.This scenario has never happened before (as I’ve only recently moved in), but the combination of me sitting and thinking, dad sitting and reading in the same room, and my mum busy doing something in the kitchen (when everyone else is fed up of housework) has undoubtedly happened before.
So I wonder whether the sense of déjà vu is merely a coming together of a certain collection of factors that when a very similar situation (though not identical) occurs, it ‘feels’ as though it has. i.e. it’s all about your brain making connections with the past rather than your brain temporarily functioning badly. In which case, I wonder how many factors need to be the same for déjà vu to occur?I thought I had something with that, but apparently as people age, the experience of déjà vu gets less frequent, not more (which you’d expect, as older people have made a lot more connections).
Anyway, do you think it’s true that more reflective, observant, perceptive people experience déjà vu more than others?