Déjà vu, from French, literally "already seen", is the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has been experienced in the past, whether it has actually happened or not.
The psychologist Edward B. Titchener in his book 1928 A Textbook of Psychology, explained déjà vu as caused by a person having a brief glimpse of an object or situation, before the brain has completed "constructing" a full conscious perception of the experience. Such a "partial perception" then results in a false sense of familiarity. The explanation that has mostly been accepted of déjà vu is not that it is an act of "precognition" or "prophecy", but rather that it is an anomaly of memory, giving the false impression that an experience is "being recalled". This explanation is supported 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 uncertain or believed to be impossible.
As time passes, subjects may exhibit a strong recollection of having the "unsettling" experience of déjà vu itself, but little or no recollection of the specifics of the event(s) or circumstance(s) which were the subject of the déjà vu experience itself (the events that were being "remembered"). This may result from an "overlap" between the neurological systems responsible for short-term memory and those responsible for long-term memory, resulting in (memories of) recent events erroneously being perceived as being in the more distant past. One theory is the events are stored into memory before the conscious part of the brain even receives the information and processes it. However, this explanation has been criticized that the brain would not be able to store information without a sensory input first. Another theory suggests the brain may process sensory input (perhaps all sensory input) as a "memory-in-progress", and that therefore during the event itself one believes it to be a past memory. In a survey, Brown had concluded that approximately two-thirds of the population have had déjà vu experiences.
Links with disorders
Early researchers tried to establish a link between déjà vu and serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and dissociative identity disorder, but failed to find the experience of some diagnostic value. There does not seem to be a special association between déjà vu and schizophrenia or other psychiatric conditions. The strongest pathological association of déjà vu is with temporal lobe epilepsy. This correlation has led some researchers to speculate that the experience of déjà 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 déjà vu, resulting in an erroneous sensation of memory. Scientists have even looked into genetics when considering déjà vu. Although there is not currently a gene associated with déjà vu, the LGII gene on chromosome 10 is being studied for a possible link. Certain forms of the gene are associated with a mild form of epilepsy and, though by no means a certainty, déjà vu occurs often enough during seizures that researchers have reason to suspect a link.
Certain drugs increase the chances of déjà vu occurring in the user. Some pharmaceutical drugs, when taken together, have also been implicated in the cause of déjà vu. Taiminen and Jääskeläinen (2001) reported the case of an otherwise healthy male who started experiencing intense and recurrent sensations of déjà 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 Jääskeläinen speculate that déjà vu occurs as a result of hyperdopaminergic action in the mesial temporal areas of the brain.
The similarity between a déjà-vu-eliciting stimulus and an existing, but different, memory trace may lead to the sensation. Thus, encountering something which evokes the implicit associations of an experience or sensation that cannot be remembered may lead to déjà vu. In an effort to experimentally reproduce the sensation, Banister and Zangwill (1941) 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 déjà vu can be reliably produced that would allow it to be tested under well-controlled experimental conditions. Cleary suggests that déjà 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 déjà vu in laboratory settings. A recent study that used virtual reality technology to study reported déjà vu experiences supported this idea. This virtual reality investigation suggested that similarity between a new scene's spatial layout and the layout of a previously experienced scene in memory (but which fails to be recalled) may contribute to the déjà vu experience. When the previously experienced scene fails to come to mind in response to viewing the new scene, that previously experienced scene in memory can still exert an effect—that effect may be a feeling of familiarity with the new scene that is subjectively experienced as a feeling of déjà vu, or of having been there before despite knowing otherwise. Another possible explanation for the phenomenon of déjà vu is the occurrence of "cryptomnesia", 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 "déjà vu". Some experts suggest that memory is a process of reconstruction, rather than a recall of fixed, established events. This reconstruction comes from stored components, involving elaborations, distortions and omissions. Each successive recall of an event is merely a recall of the last reconstruction. The proposed sense of recognition (déjà vu) involves achieving a good ‘match’ between the present experience and our stored data. This reconstruction however, may now differ so much from the original event that we ‘know’ we have never experienced it before, even though it seems similar.
Some parapsychologists have advocated other interpretations of déjà vu. Ian Stevenson and other researchers have written that some cases of déjà vu might be explained on the basis of reincarnation. Anthony Peake has written that déjà vu experiences occur as people are living their lives not for the first time, but at least the second.
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 déjà 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 aphasia, 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 or 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 (see semantic satiation):
Chris Moulin, of the University of Leeds, asked 95 volunteers to write out "door" 30 times in 60 seconds. At the International Conference on Memory in Sydney last week he reported that 68 percent of the volunteers showed symptoms of jamais vu, such as beginning to doubt that "door" was a real word. Dr. Moulin believes that a similar brain fatigue underlies a phenomenon observed in some schizophrenia patients: that a familiar person has been replaced by an impostor. Dr. Moulin suggests they could be suffering from chronic jamais vu.
Presque vu is similar to, but distinct from, the phenomenon called tip of the tongue, a situation where someone cannot recall a familiar word or name, but with effort eventually recalls the elusive memory. In contrast, déjà 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".
In popular culture
Déjà vu provides a plot point in The Matrix, a 1999 science fiction-action film written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski. The protagonist, Neo, glances at a black cat and comments that he has just experienced déjà vu. Those with a knowledge of 'The Matrix' and its internal workings state that déjà vu means something within the Matrix was altered from its prior state and is referred to as a "glitch".
The 2006 science fiction film Déjà Vu revolves around a US federal law enforcement officer, played by Denzel Washington, using an instrument called Snowhite to view the past four and a half days of anywhere in the world (limited radius as permissible by the program) in order to solve a murder and a terrorist bomb attack on a ferry that was being boarded by about 500 citizens and military members.
In the 2011 film Donovan’s Echo, the central character, Donovan (Danny Glover), experiences a series of déjà vu events 30 years apart. His sanity is in question when he strongly begins to believe that the same set of events that led to his family's death is happening to a young girl and her mother.
The concept is explored in the episode 119 of Garfield and Friends in the Orson's Farm segment.
The X-Files episode "Monday" (Season 6, Episode 14) in which Mulder and Scully repeat the same day again and again explores the complexities of déjà vu. In the episode Mulder uses his experience of déjà vu to influence events.
Déjà Vu is also a recurring plot element on Fringe. In the Season One episode, "The Road Not Taken", Olivia described the experience of déjà vu to Walter after she briefly experienced an alternate reality as the result of being a Cortexiphan subject. In the Season Two episode "White Tulip", Olivia experiences déjà vu while investigating the apartment of a time traveler who reset the timeline.
In episode 6 of The Suite Life On Deck Cody keeps repeating the same day over and over again when the ship is struck with lightning when crossing the international dateline.
In the Star Trek, The Next Generation episode, ‘Cause and Effect’, The U.S.S Enterprise is destroyed in a collision with another ship close to a temporal anomaly. This causes the event to repeat over and over which in turn causes several crew members to have feelings of Déjà Vu.
In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Window of Opportunity" Teal'c and O'Neil experience the same day over and over again due to a device on an alien planet.
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|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Déjà vu|
- Anne Cleary discussing a virtual reality investigation of déjà vu
- Familiarity from the Configuration of Objects in 3-dimensional Space and Its Relation to Deja vu: A Virtual Reality Investigation
- Deja Vu: Scientifically Explained | Medchrome
- Chronic déjà vu - quirks and quarks episode (mp3)
- A new theory that links déjà vu to Near-Death Experience — by Anthony Peake, 2006.
- The Skeptic's Dictionary
- How Déjà Vu Works — a Howstuffworks article
- Déjà Experience Research — a website dedicated to providing déjà 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
- documentary about DEJA VU: TEMPORAO