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September 15, 2010



Last year, I met for the first time a new colleague at work. As soon as I saw her, I was sure I had met her before. There was something very familiar about her. I told her so but she said we had never met before. I have no reason not to believe her, but I still have this strange feeling of having seen her somewhere before meeting her at my workplace. I don't think I can explain this ... it's not that she looks like someone I know.


I had this impression of deja vu / deja vecu 3 years ago when I moved to my new appartment in an area I never used to hang around at all. Well, the appartmeent looked very familiar and I felt a bit shocked at the beginning. It was as if I had already lived in that appartment... But how could I? I tried to find a logical explanation but in vain!

Lisa A

Buonasera Anastasia. I will tell you something very strange that happened to me. I was working on a new painting which really took me 3 months to finish. When I finished it, I was sure I had seen this painting before I painted it (of corse I wasnt copying anybody's work.) I was so proud of me that at last I had this great inspiration. I felt scared and weeks I could not sleep. This feeling of deja vu made me so suffer that in the end, I decided to not put this painting in my exhibition and finally I wanted to change it.


90% of people claim to have experienced deja vu. Yet there is still no definitive explanation for it. The current best theory is that deja vu is caused by delays between the many parts of the brain involved in processing memories. For instance, an area called the hippocampus is important for storing long-term memories, and another part - the temporo-parietal junction - is important in recognising something as familiar. Normally, these two systems work hand-in-hand but deja vu may occur if there's a temporary delay between them.

This could lead to a false sense of familiarity being triggered without there being a true memory to base it on. This explains why deja vu experiences are vividly detailed, yet have no context. Deja vu remains very difficult to study because we can't predict when it will occur. As with many neurological phenomena we are still some way from knowing exactly how and why it happens.


Progress toward understanding déjà vu has also been made in the neurosciences. In particular, researchers in both cognitive psychology and the neurosciences have distinguished between memories that are based on conscious recollection and memories that are based on familiarity. For instance, most people are able to consciously recollect their first kiss. They can mentally put themselves back into the context of that event (sigh). But we've also all had the experience of knowing we've met someone before, but not knowing quite where. The person is familiar but we can't quite place them. Researchers believe that a memory system that includes the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus mediates conscious recollection whereas a memory system that includes the parahippocampal gyrus and its cortical connections mediates feelings of familiarity. Josef Spatt has recently argued that déjà vu experiences occur when the parahippocampal gyrus and associated areas become temporarily activated in the presence of normal functioning in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. This produces a strong feeling of familiarity but without the experience of conscious recollection.

Jean-Paul Bouvier

Notre cerveau nous joue des tours et en fait, il s'agirait d'un décalage provoqué par la fatigue, le stress ou l'ivresse dans le système neutonal chargé de distinguer dans une scène, le connu du nouveau. Embrouillé, notre cerveau prendrait pour un souvenir que les sens lui envoient au présent. ce n'est donc qu'une fausse impression peut-être chargée de sens qui reste à découvrir...


I first experienced deja-vu when I was about 6 years ol;d. Not only did I have the feeling that it had all happened already but I knew exactly what was gonna happen for the next 15 -20 minutes and it happened exactly like that, down to the last detail.


I've experienced deja vu many times in my life - whether this had to do with people or places which looked incredibly familiar. I never tried to explain this and put it somewhere at the back of my mind. That was not the case with my ex girlfriend. But when we started dating, I strongly felt that I had reacted in exactly the same way long before I met her.

Lakis Ioannou

When I was 12, I had to do a very hard maths test - my first maths test at high school! I was good at maths but I remember I was quite nervous about this one. When I got the paper I was sure I had had the same test before. And, of course, I got full marks! deja vu experiences are not easy to explain, but as I tend to have an explanation for everything, I explain deja vu like this: our brain works pretty much like a computer. It processes data. But like all computers sometimes it gets bugs and processes false memories which inevitably result in deja vu experiences.


I experience deja vu almost every day, especially since I moved to a new place 2 years ago. I felt I knew people I had first met there, or, sometimes some words spoken to these new people I recently met sound like I had said the same words before. I can't place the time or the circumstances but I'm sure I did meet them before and spoke to them in the same way. I can't explain why this is happening...But I sometimes feel this is all in the mind, a kind of illusion. Great topic, by the way!


I've often felt I had already known people I met for the first time. There was something infinitely familiar about them.


That's exactly how I felt, Christina, when I visited Cuevas del Drach for the first time. How could I feel I had been there before since in my conscious memory I knew I hadn't!


Lisa do you mean to say that you had already created that painting while, in actual fact, you thought you had painted it for the first time? Or did you feel you had just seen soemewhere the very same painting you had produced?


This is a very interesting explanation, Laura. So, if I get it right, can we say deja vu is nothing but an illusion?


And I guess, this is why we can't really place the memories based on familiarity.


Moi aussi j'ai cette impression, Jean-Paul. Je pense que déjà vu est en réalité une sorte d'illusion parce que notre cerveau nous joue des tours.


How strange, Agnes! Your experience surely relates to some kind of extra-sensory perception.


How did you feel the moment you realised you had already reacted in the same way before?


Sounds pretty clear to me and I tend to agree. Deja vu is nothing but an illusion or let's say a false memory - that's what it boils down to, I guess.


As T.S.Eliot said:"All cases are unique and very similar to others." So, it's likely that deja vu is due to similar past experiences which trigger false memories.

Lisa A

Anastasia, when I finished my painting, I felt I had made it before myself. It was not someone else's painting that I had seen somewhere. I was sure I painted that before but I could not remember when I did that or where.


I felt very embarrassed and quite self-conscious. It was as if everyone in that restaurant was staring at me, reading my thoughts, watching my reactions. When I told my girlfriend how I felt, ahe just laughed and said: "Hey that's crazy!" I can't blame her!

Phivos Nicolaides

This is so interesting article Anastasia. Have a great weekend!


Thanks for stopping by, Phivos. Have a lovely weekend and a great week ahead.

Alexia M

Amazing post! I sometimes feel the deja senti more than the deja vu - that is in a completely new situation, I am sure I had the same reactions and feelings before. Very similar to what Constantinos has experienced.

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