Today's Science Times in the New York Times has a piece about the phenomenon of déjà vu:
Déjà Vu: If It All Seems Familiar, There May Be a Reason
By BENEDICT CAREY
...But the point, psychologists who study memory say, is that people take in a rich banquet of information without noticing it, or noticing and simply forgetting where it came from. It is entirely possible to read an Anne Rice novel and years later, after having forgotten the book, find that a first visit to New Orleans seems like a glimpse into a former life. Or to see one of the bar scenes from the movie "L.A. Confidential" and later walk into the Formosa Cafe for the first time and catch your breath.
The familiarity can come from a variety of sources, some real and some not, said Dr. Kathleen McDermott, a colleague of Dr. Jacoby's at Washington University who studies memory.
"It's well known that even if you imagine something now that may not have happened in the past, it can create a feeling of familiarity if it does happen later on," she said, adding, "You don't need objective outside information to create these situations; you can do so internally, on your own." ...
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