There’s an Opposite of Déjà Vu and it’s Even Spookier

I know what you’re thinking. Wait, there’s an opposite of déjà vu? Weird right? Of course, the first thought is what is it and how do we know we’re experience this elusive moment.

That strange, spooky moment of déjà vu when we’re sure we’ve been in the situation we’re experiencing already is always bizarre yet there’s something fun about it.

According to Science Alert déjà vu is actually a window into the workings of our memory system.

Our research found that the phenomenon arises when the part of the brain which detects familiarity de-synchronizes with reality. Déjà vu is the signal which alerts you to this weirdness: it is a type of “fact checking” for the memory system.

So, what exactly is the opposite and why don’t we hear about it more? Science Alert says it’s called jamais vu and pronounced zham-ay vu.




According to Science Alert, jamais vu is when something, someone, or a feeling is normally very familiar to us but feels unreal.

It’s much rarer than déjà vu so when it does happen it feels even spookier and more unsettling. An example is hearing or writing a word that you know very well however it sounds or looks wrong even after you confirm it’s correct.

Jamais vu may involve looking at a familiar face and finding it suddenly unusual or unknown. You may have had it going to a familiar place and becoming disorientated or seeing it with “new eyes”.

Jamais vu is French for ‘never seen’ so you’ll know you’re in the moment of eeriness when it feels like you’re experiencing some for the first time even though you know you’re not.

As a reminder, déjà vu is French for ‘already seen.’

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