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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

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1st Report of Déjà Vu in Blind Person

Case Shows Phenomena Isn't Just About Vision
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 1, 2006 -- Ever had déjà vu, the odd sensation you've experienced a situation before?

The words déjà vu literally mean "already seen"; but the sensation may not just come through sight.

Two English researchers describe what they say is the first report of déjà vu in a blind person.

Akira O'Connor and Christopher Moulin, PhD, present the case in Brain and Cognition.

Both work at England's University of Leeds. O'Connor is a psychology graduate student -- Moulin a lecturer in cognitive neuropsychology.

"Given that current theory now favors a memory explanation for déjà vu, that we report déjà vu in a blind individual is, in itself, not a cause for surprise," they write.

"What is surprising is that it has not been reported before, and that the application of this knowledge has not previously been used to further our understanding of déjà vu," they say.

The healthy 25-year-old man in their study has been totally blind from birth, yet says he's had multiple "déjà" experiences since childhood, according to the researchers.

The man calls those experiences a "multidimensional memory, as if I was encountering a minirecording in my head, but trying to think 'Where have I come across that before?'"

For instance, he recalls having the feeling while zipping up a jacket as he heard a particular sound on a cassette player, and as he went through a cafeteria line, according to the researchers.

Since the blind man has never seen, those experiences can't stem from his vision, say O'Connor and Moulin.

They say the man contacted them about "déjà" experiences in which he felt he'd been in the same situation before.

He said he now has such experiences about every three months, but had them two or three times a week as a child.

However, he couldn't recall his last déjà experience.

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