Young People Experience More Déjà Vu, And That Says Important Things About The Brain

Most people have experienced déjà vu at some point in their lives — that eerie phenomenon where an experience feels way more familiar than it should. As many as 70 percent of people have experience with the feeling, but the people who feel it most are those between 15 and 25 years old. The reason why is mysterious, but it could shed light on why déjà vu happens in the first place.

Related Video: What Is Déjà Vu?

It Seems We Stood and Talked Like This Before

Déjà vu is incredibly complex, and we still can't fully explain it. But like any scientific mystery, theories abound. Swiss scholar Arthur Funkhouser, for instance, thinks there are different kinds of déjà vu. Déjà visité is the feeling that you've already visited a place you know you've never been before, while déjà vecu is the feeling you've already experienced a situation that should be new to you. Déjà rêvé is another sensation where you feel you've already dreamed an experience you're having. Scientists also notice that feelings of déjà vu often occur right before someone has a temporal-lobe seizure, which offers its own clues. Others still think it has to do wish fulfillment or a past life experience. The answers are murky at best.

The Memories Of Youth

So why would young people have more experiences of déjà than older people, when older people, by definition, have more memories that can go on the fritz? Don't memory problems increase with age? It may mean that déjà vu is actually the sign of a healthy mind, not an unhealthy one. The difference between a real memory and déjà vu is that moment when you realize you shouldn't be having that feeling of recognition. That realization may be the thing that older brains lose. Maybe older people have déjà vu just as much as younger people, but they're worse at spotting the difference between a real memory and a mind glitch.

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Learn more about this weird sensation in Alan S. Brown's book, "The Déjà Vu Experience: Essays in Cognitive Psychology." If you choose to purchase the book through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Ashley Hamer April 20, 2017

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