You walk into a room and suddenly your brain goes fuzzy with an overwhelming wave of familiarity—although this is a totally new experience. Like something out of a sci-fi plot, it almost seems as if you’ve walked into the future.
Chances are, you’ve experienced this situation, known as déjà vu, during your life. Déjà vu (French for “already seen”) occurs in approximately 60 to 80 percent of people—a phenomenon that’s almost always fleeting and may manifest at any time. Despite widespread coverage, bursts of déjà vu are still not understood by the scientific community.
“Because there is no clear, identifiable stimulus that elicits a déjà vu experience (it is a retrospective report from an individual), it is very difficult to study déjà vu in a laboratory,” says Michelle Hook, assistant professor in the department of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.
“According to many studies, approximately two-thirds of individuals have experienced at least one episode of déjà vu in their life,” Hook says. “Understanding how memory storage works may shed some light on why some experience it more than others.”