How Déjà Vu Works

Déjà Vu and Precognitive Dreams

Precognitive dreams might be the source of many deja vu experiences. Read about precognitive dreams and how precognitive dreams cause deja vu.
Precognitive dreams might be the source of many deja vu experiences. Read about precognitive dreams and how precognitive dreams cause deja vu.
Francois Lo Presti/AFP/Getty Images

Some researchers, including Swiss scientist Arthur Funkhouser, firmly believe that precognitive dreams are the source of many déjà vu experiences. J.W. Dunne, an aeronautical engineer who designed planes in World War II, conducted studies in 1939 using students of Oxford University. His studies found 12.7 percent of his subjects' dreams to have similarities with future events. Recent studies, including one by Nancy Sondow in 1988, have had similar results of 10 percent.

These researchers also tied evidence of precognitive dreams to déjà vu experiences that occurred anywhere from one day to eight years later. The question has been raised about why the experiences themselves are typically mundane everyday things. One explanation from Funkhouser is that something more exciting is more likely to be remembered, making a déjà vu experience less likely.

Although déjà vu has been studied as a phenomenon for over a hundred years and researchers have advanced tens of theories about its cause, there is no simple explanation for what it means or why it happens. Perhaps as technology advances and we learn more about how the brain works, we will also learn more about why we experience this strange phenomenon.

Check out the links below for lots more information on déjà vu and related topics.

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More Great Links


  • Britt, Robert Roy. "Patients Suffer Déjà Vu...Over and Over." LiveScience, January 30, 2006.
  • Carey, Benedict. "Déjà Vu: If It All Seems Familiar, There May Be a Reason." New York Times, September 14, 2004. science/14deja.html?ex=1252900800&en=331d6db9dff26282 &ei=5090&partner=rssuserland
  • Carroll, Robert Todd. "Déjà vu." The Skeptic's Dictionary, February 13, 2006.
  • "Déjà Vu." The Mystica.
  • "An Experiment with Time by J.W. Dunne." Texas Chapbook Press.
  • Funkhouser, Arthur. "Three Types of Déjà Vu.", January 12, 2006.
  • Glenn, David. "The Tease of Memory." The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 23, 2004.
  • Kirkey, Sharon. "When déjà vu is more than just an odd feeling." Ottawa Citizen, February 13, 2006. id=2c4f7afd-5a3a-4e52-a2fb-bc729692bfb4&k=48785
  • "Neppe Déjà Vu Research and Theory." Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute.
  • Johnson, C. "A Theory on the Déjà Vu Phenomenon." Public Service Projects Index, December 8, 2001.
  • Johnson, Julia. "UGH! I Just Got the Creepiest Feeling That I Have Been Here Before: Déjà vu and the Brain, Consciousness and Self." Bryn Mawr College, 1998. 202s98-paper2/Johnson2.html
  • Kozovska, Kornelia. "Does a split reality exist? Déjà vu as a failure of the brain to put 'time stamps' on memories." Bryn Mawr College, 2002.
  • Malcolm, Lynne. "Déjà Vu: A Glitch in the Matrix?" All in the Mind, October 2, 2004.
  • Murphy, Todd. "Here and Now, There and Then." InnerWorlds, 1999.
  • "The Various Manifestations of Déjà Vu Experience." Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute.
  • "Vernon Neppe." Parapsychiatric Institute.