Déjà vu is French for “already seen”. It describes an oddly familiar experience that you know shouldn’t be that familiar to you. Déjà vu is common amongst most people and only lasts a very short amount of time, minutes or even seconds. There are 4 different categories that the common form of déjà vu can fall into: memory, dual-processing, attentional and neurological.
Memory is, for example, you are performing a task and you focused on that task, but the news is playing on the tv behind you and you are not paying attention to it at all. Later, you are reading an article that starts talking about the same thing that was playing on the news. That experience when reading that article feels familiar. That is because you’ve already heard the information before.
Dual-processing is when 2 thinking processes are not synchronized. For example, being familiar with something and recovering that memory is not synchronized. That is why you feel that that experience is familiar, however, you can’t really remember if you’ve had that experience before.
Attentional is when you are attempting to complete a task and you are distracted by something else. When you go back to the task, it may feel as if you had already done it. For example, say you are writing a paper and you get distracted in the middle of a sentence because you hear something strange nearby. Then when you go back to finishing that sentence, it might seem as if you’ve written that sentence before. That is because you can forget that slight moment of distraction and it might seem as if you had finished that sentence, when you had not.
Neurological could possibly be a sign of epilepsy or it could be a delay in the transfer of information from the brain to the ears, eyes or nose. For example, you are standing on the sidewalk and you are looking at a building but the signal from your eyes that tells your brain what are looking at is late. There might be a slight moment of déjà vu, because there is a slight delay in the signal sent to the brain. Longer lasting déjà vu is most commonly associated with epilepsy, a continuing disorder of repeated seizures. However, déjà vu is very common amongst people and if you experience déjà vu it does not necessarily mean you are having a seizure.
Although déjà vu may feel odd or unnatural, it is very natural to experience déjà vu at least once in your life...at least that's you THINK anyway.
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Saleh, Naveed. “4 Possible Explanations for Déjà Vu.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 26 Oct. 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-red-light-district/201610/4-possible-explanations-d-j-vu.
Teale, Julia C., and Akira R. O'Connor. “What Is Déjà Vu?” Scientific American, 3 Mar. 2015, blogs.scientificamerican.com/frontiers-for-young-minds/what-is-d-233-j-224-vu/.