Jun 12, 2008

Age Related Deja

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The most consistent finding in the deja vu literature is that the incidence with which it is experienced decreases with age (Bernhard-Leroy, 1898; Brauer et al., 1970; Chapman & Mensh, 1951; J. C. Dixon, 1963; Dugas, 1894; Gallup & Newport, 1991; M. A. Harper, 1969; Kohr, 1980; Kraepelin, 1887; Krijgers Janzen, 1958; Levin, 1993; MacCurdy, 1925; McCready & Greeley, 1976; Oberndorf, 1941; Palmer, 1979; Richardson & Winokur, 1967; Sander, 1874; Sno et al., 1994; Stanford, 1982; Zuger, 1966; although M. A. Harper, 1969; Lalande, 1893; and Neppe, 1983d, found no age difference).

Whereas many evaluations were based on personal observations, there have been several convincing empirical demonstrations of this trend. Three studies extensively evaluated changes in lifetime déjà vu experience across a broad age range. Chapman and Mensh (1951) assessed deja vu incidence in 11 different 5-year age spans (from 15–19 through 65–69). They discovered a systematic decline in the lifetime deja vu incidence with increasing age. The only anomaly in this trend is the lower rate found with teenagers.

Richardson and Winokur (1967) modeled their research after Chapman and Mensh, and queried patients admitted to a hospital for neurosurgical and psychiatric treatment. The age trends for both of their groups were similar to that found by Chapman and Mensh: a systematic decline in deja vu lifetime incidence across the adult age span, with the exception of a lower incidence for teenagers.

The third extensive evaluation of age-related data comes from the combined results of three surveys by the NORC (1984, 1988, 1989), including 3,885 individuals across ages 18–89 with an average sample size of 274 for each age block (range 70 to 488). The NORC incidence stayed steady at around 75% to 80% from the teen years to the early 40s, but declined systematically from there.

Palmer (1979) discovered that the lifetime incidence of deja vu was 83% for those under age 30 but dropped to 52% for those over 50, whereas Zuger (1966) found that the incidence dropped from 72% in those aged 25 years and under to 61% in individuals older than 25. Finally, Sno et al. (1994), Chapman and Mensh (1951), and Kohr (1980) all found similar negative correlations between age and deja vu incidence (–.22, –.23, and –.32, respectively).