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Déjà vu Fact Sheet

July 8, 2009

SMU Psychology Professor Alan Brown identified these facts about déjà vu:

  • A majority of people experience déjà vu, roughly two-thirds of the population.
  • The frequency of déjà vu decreases with age and is most common among people from 15 to 25 years old.
  • People with higher incomes and more education have more déjà vu experiences.
  • Déjà vu appears to be associated with stress and fatigue.
  • Those who travel have more déjà vu experiences.
  • Some people report that déjà vu experiences appear to repeat prior dreams.

There are no definitive answers for what causes déjà vu, but Brown narrows this down to four scientifically plausible possibilities:

  • Dual processing:  two cognitive processes momentarily get out of synch
  • Neurological:  a seizure or disruption in normal neuronal transmission
  • Memory:  a memory that we forgot connects with part of the present experience
  • Attention:  an unattended perception is quickly followed by an attended perception of the same thing

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