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Psychon Bull Rev. 2009 Dec;16(6):1082-8. doi: 10.3758/PBR.16.6.1082.

Can deja vu result from similarity to a prior experience? Support for the similarity hypothesis of deja vu.

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Department of Psychology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1876, USA.


The strange feeling of having been somewhere or done something before--even though there is evidence to the contrary--is called déjà vu. Although déjà vu is beginning to receive attention among scientists (Brown, 2003, 2004), few studies have empirically investigated the phenomenon. We investigated the hypothesis that déjà vu is related to feelings of familiarity and that it can result from similarity between a novel scene and that of a scene experienced in one's past. We used a variation of the recognition-without-recall method of studying familiarity (Cleary, 2004) to examine instances in which participants failed to recall a studied scene in response to a configurally similar novel test scene. In such instances, resemblance to a previously viewed scene increased both feelings of familiarity and of déjà vu. Furthermore, in the absence of recall, resemblance of a novel scene to a previously viewed scene increased the probability of a reported déjà vu state for the novel scene, and feelings of familiarity with a novel scene were directly related to feelings of being in a déjà vu state.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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