Novel insights into false recollection: A model of déjà vécu

Akira Robert O'Connor, Colin Lever, Chris Moulin

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19 Citations (Scopus)
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The thesis of this paper is that deja experiences can be separated into two forms: deja vu, arising from the erroneous sensation of familiarity, and deja vecu, arising from the erroneous sensation of recollection. We summarise a series of cases for whom deja vecu is experienced frequently and for extended periods, and seek to differentiate their experiences from “healthy” deja experiences by nonbrain-damaged participants. In reviewing our cases, we stress two novel ideas: that deja vecu in these cases is delusion-like; and that these cases experience deja vecu for stimuli that are especially novel or unusual. Here we present a novel cognitive neuroscientific hypothesis of deja vecu. This hypothesis assumes that the signal of retrieval from memory is neurally dissociable from the contents of retrieval. We suggest that a region downstream of the hippocampus signals “recollection” by detecting the timing of firing in hippocampal output neurons relative to the theta oscillation. Disruptions to this “temporal coding” mechanism result in false signals of recollection which may occur without actual retrieval and which, ironically, may arise particularly during situations of contextual novelty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-144
Number of pages27
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number1-3
Early online date29 Sept 2009
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Deja vu
  • Dementia
  • Theta
  • Hippocampus


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