The Science Behind a Déjà Vu

Spiritual leaders, shrinks, and scientists all have developed theories to explain the spirit or science of déjà vu, that uncanny and fleeting feeling of having “been there” or “done that” before. At this point, scientists don’t have much more proof than non-scientists do to explain why we experience it, and that’s because the science of déjà vu isn’t easy to pin down for research; in most people, déjà vu seems to strike at random, which limits the scope of studies that can be designed to explore the phenomenon.

A few studies, however, have been able to at the very least challenge untested déjà vu theories previously posed by the scientific community. Here are five scientific theories that can help illustrate what déjà vu is, sometimes by proving what déjà vu isn’t.

Understanding the Science of Déjà Vu

The Misplaced Wisdom Theory

It was once thought that déjà vu reflected “an accumulation of life experience” that would manifest as that eerie sense of having experienced that particular moment before. This theory doesn’t jive, though, with the fact that déjà vu is most often experienced by people between the ages of 15 and 25 — after which its incidence steadily declines. Ironically, our aging cognitive functions being their decline around this stage in life as well.

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