Do you feel like you’ve read this article before? Well, maybe not, but that odd feeling we all get sometimes that we’ve been here, done this, or experienced this before is pretty universal. This strange phenomenon is something we call déjà vu, and there is still a lot of speculation about what causes it. There are several different possibilities revealed through science that could help explain more about déjà vu and why it happens.
While the theory is that there’s no gender difference in the occurrence of déjà vu, it’s believed that factors like age, education, stress level, and others may impact how likely you are to experience it. For example, you might be more likely to have a moment of déjà vu if you’re younger than older. However, despite this, researchers can still only make educated guesses based on evidence. Here are a few common ones.
Memories of Similar Moments
One possibility suggests that déjà vu is based mostly in memory. More specifically, the key is unexpected familiarity. A 2012 study revealed that showing someone a scene, and then showing them another similar scene later gave them a sense of déjà vu. The second scene was alike to the first enough to strike up that familiarity, but not enough to consciously make the second scene come to mind.
Attention to Detail
Another explanation has to do with people’s attention. Generally, people have selective attention that doesn’t pick up all the details of their surroundings, so they may not remember it even if they consciously perceive it. With that in mind, you could find yourself in surroundings one day that you don’t recognize, despite having had a similar experience before. This could trigger déjà vu if you simply didn’t pay attention the first time around.
Spiritual and Metaphysical
We can’t leave out the spiritual and metaphysical possibilities, of course. Even without solid studies to back it up, there is potential for different reasons. From past lives to precognition, there are certainly reasons to speculate this sensation comes from somewhere in our consciousness. On the metaphysical end, it is possible that these are things that we have experienced in another dimension, or in another place in the multiverse at the same time. Science is beginning to embrace the possibilities of us having lives in multiple universes, which opens up the gates to many amazing reasons behind déjà vu.
Researchers have thrown other ideas into the mix, including that déjà vu may even be a kind of seizure. However, those wistful feelings come from somewhere and there is still a lot to learn about them. For now, it’s still pretty safe to say that your brain is more fascinating than anyone knows.