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David Baxter

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The Science Behind D?j? Vu
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Dr. Deborah Serani

"D?j? Vu", as the talented and beautiful Beyonc? sings, is that sensation of having already lived through a particular moment.

And it is one of psychology's most enduring, but rarely studied, mysteries.

But Dr. Alan Brown, professor of psychology and a leading researcher on memory, has identified common facts about D?j? Vu:

? A majority of people experience D?j? Vu, roughly two-thirds of the population.
? The frequency of D?j? Vu decreases with age and is most common among people ages 15 to 25.
? People with higher incomes and more education have more D?j? Vu experiences.
? D?j? Vu appears to be associated with stress and fatigue.
? Those who travel have more D?j? Vu experiences.
? For some, D?j? Vu experiences appear to repeat prior dreams.

Here's The Science
Several theories suggest that our brain functioning is at the core for this experience. The "dual processing" theory, for example, holds that D?j? Vu happens when the two cognitive processes of visual and verbal are momentarily out of sync. D?j? Vu happens because the interconnectedness from these two system is on the fritz.

Another theory posits that D?j? Vu occurs when a memory we've consciously forgotten connects with part of our present experience.

And yet another study suggests that D?j? Vu is like an attentional slip where our brain quickly takes in a scene without our noticing. Then, when we do become aware of what we perceive, it feels familiar -- not because we've seen it before, but because we've already processed it on another cognitive level.

Whether spiritual or psychological, D?j? Vu is a most interesting experience.

References
Brown, R. (2004). The d?j? vu experience: Essays in cognitive psychology. United Kingdom: Psychology Press.

Psychology Today
 
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deja vu has always had me mystified, thanks for posting this article. my deja vu has always clearly been in the form of a dream, and indeed, as i got older it happened less and less. still i find it hard to believe it's just a disconnect in the brain. there never was any doubt that i had dreamed the situation before. in fact i even always had a sense of how long ago i had had the dream, be it months ago or a matter of days. anyone else have similar experiences?
 

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