TJpaintingsm “I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led.”

Thomas Jefferson (1814)


Information about the Division of Perceptual Studies

The Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS), formerly the Division of Personality Studies, is a unit of the Department of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, VA. The Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) was founded as a research unit of the Department of Psychiatric Medicine at UVA by Dr. Ian Stevenson in 1967.  (see History and Description for more information about the founding of DOPS).

Utilizing scientific methods, the researchers within The Division of Perceptual Studies investigate apparent paranormal phenomena especially in the following areas of research:

Children Who Claim to Remember Previous Lives:

Some young children, usually between the ages of 2 and 5, speak about memories of a previous life they claim to have lived. At the same time they often show behaviors, such as phobias or preferences, that are unusual within the context of their particular family and cannot be explained by any current life events. These memories appear to be concordant with the child’s statements about  a previous life. In many cases of this type, the child’s statements have been shown to correspond accurately to facts in the life and death of a deceased person. Some of the children have birthmarks and birth defects that correspond to wounds or other marks on the deceased person whose life is being remembered by the child.  In numerous cases postmortem reports have confirmed these correspondences. Older children may retain these apparent memories, but generally they seem to fade around the age of 7 .

The research staff at the Division of Perceptual Studies has been investigating these cases since 1961 and have published numerous articles and books about them. There is also a list of books on reincarnation which includes one book about Dr. Stevenson’s work by Tom Shroder, editor at the Washington Post at the time of the publication of the book. This book is called “Old Souls” and was published in 1999 after Mr. Shroder spent a great deal of time observing Dr. Stevenson investigating cases in the field. The young subjects of these cases have been found all over the world including Europe and North America.


The Atlantic sm 5242857Here is an article by Jake Flanagin in which he writes about the respected researchers at DOPS who are lending credibility to parapsychological research. January/February 2014,  The Atlantic.


An article appeared in the UVA Alumni Magazine, winter 2013, which focused on the research of Children Who Claim to Remember Previous Lives being conducted by Dr. Jim B. Tucker.  Click on the link to read the article by Sean Lyons  “The Science of Reincarnation: UVA psychiatrist Jim Tucker investigates children’s claims of past lives”.



Video on the topic of Reincarnation Research:


A video of Dr. Jim Tucker describing a young boy who has memories of a previous life in which he was his own grandfather.  In this video, Dr. Tucker discusses his own research as well as the research conducted by the esteemed founder of DOPS, the late Dr. Ian Stevenson. Click here to view the video.






In this video, Dr. Jim Tucker offers his perspective on the scientific research into children who remember past lives. “I don’t think that we can map these cases on to mainstream materialistic view of the world, I think what they seem to indicate is that consciousness is not limited just to the physical brain but can continue on after the brain dies. I think there are reasons, other reasons, to consider that consciousness should be considered separate from the physical world, that is, a separate entity.” Click here to view the video.

(Disclaimer: the viewer of this video will notice that the title of this series is “Discovering Regression Therapy, A Love Story”. This project was not produced by the The Division of Perceptual Studies. Our division does not in any way use, nor do we endorse regression therapy as a means of gathering information in the cases we study of small children who spontaneously report past lives memories. Please refer to this page for an explanation as to why we do not endorse past life regression as a means of conducting our research.)


  • We invite you to visit our YouTube Channel to view additional videos in which members of the DOPS faculty are presenting their research.


Radio Interviews on the topic of Reincarnation Research:

NRP logo sm 3164305Listen to Dr. Jim Tucker on NPR Weekend Edition, January 5th, 2014.  Dr. Tucker was interviewed by Rachel Martin in the segment titled: “Searching for the Science Behind Reincarnation”.

To the Best of our knowledge logoDr. Jim Tucker appeared on the syndicated NPR Wisconsin Public Radio program To the Best of Our Knowledge”  in November of 2005 to discuss his research in the area of reincarnation. Listen to Dr. Tucker in segment two of the program, The  Meaning of Life: In the Beginning.


Near-Death Experiences:

A near-death experience, or NDE, is a common pattern of events that many persons experience when they are seriously ill or come close to death. Although NDEs vary from one person to another, they often include such features as the following:

  • feeling very comfortable and free of pain
  •  a sensation of leaving the body, sometimes being able to see the physical body while floating above it
  •  the mind functioning more clearly and more rapidly than us
  • a sensation of being drawn into a tunnel or darkness
  • a brilliant light, sometimes at the end of the tunnel
  • a sense of overwhelming peace, well-being, or absolute, unconditional love
  • a sense of having access to unlimited knowledge
  • a “life review,” or recall of important events in the past
  • a preview of future events yet to come
  • encounters with deceased loved ones, or with other beings that may be identified as religious figures

While these features are commonly reported, many NDEs differ from this pattern and include other elements. For example, some near-death experiences may be frightening or distressing rather than peaceful. We are interested in hearing about all kinds of near-death and similar experiences, and in studying their effect upon persons who have them.

We are particularly interested in studying NDEs that may bear on the question of whether consciousness can function outside the physical body, and on whether we may survive bodily death. One such type of experience is called the veridical NDE, in which experiencers acquire verifiable information that they could not have obtained by any normal means. For example, some experiencers report seeing events going on at some distant location, such as another room of the hospital while they are unconscious.

The causes of NDEs are complex and not fully known. While many medical and psychological explanations have been offered, they remain speculative and often fall short of explaining the entire phenomenon. Numerous articles and a book about various aspects of NDEs have been written by members of our staff.


Read an article from the UVA Alumni Magazine, summer 2007 ,focusing on the research into Near-Death Experiences being conducted by Dr. Bruce Greyson.Click here to read “Altered States: Scientists analyze the near-death experience” by Lee Graves.



Dr. Bruce Greyson presented his research on Near Death Experiences to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to the monks of Dharamsala, India in December of 2011.The 2011 conference in Dharamsala was titled Cosmology and Consciousness: A Dialogue Between Buddhist Scholars and Scientists on Mind and Matter  


Video on the topic of Near Death Experience Research:


Dr. Greyson’s presentation at this conference was titled, “Is Consciousness Produced by the Brain? Click the link to watch the full length video of Dr. Greyson’s presentation.
Click here to learn more about the conference and to view photos of Dr. Greyson presenting the DOPS research to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to the monks of Dharamsala.



This video is an excerpt of a Nour Foundation panel discussion at the September 11, 2008 United Nations Symposium, Beyond the Mind-Body Problem: New Paradigms in the Science of Consciousness.

In this video, Dr. Bruce Greyson is discussing “Near Death Experiences-Beyond the Mind Body Problem”. Click here  to view the video.

Here is an additional excerpt from the same Nour Foundation panel discussion from 2008. In this portion of the video, Dr. Greyson is presenting the concept of consciousness existing beyond physical brain activity. Click here to view the video.


  • We invite you to visit our YouTube Channel to view additional videos in which members of the DOPS faculty are presenting their research.

Radio Interviews on the topic of Near Death Experiences:

MPR-LogoListen to Dr. Bruce Greyson in a recent radio interview on Minnesota Public Radio- A glimpse of the afterlife through near-death experiences. On April 6th, 2015, Dr. Bruce Greyson did a live radio interview on MPR along with journalist Gideon Lichfield. Mr Lichfield wrote an article on near death experiences that appeared in “The Atlantic Magazine”, titled, ” The Science of Near Death Experiences-Empirically investigating brushes with the afterlife“.  


with_good_reason_logoListen to Dr. Bruce Greyson discussing Near Death Experiences in an interview from November, 2006,  hosted by Sarah McConnell on the award winning public radio program With Good Reason.


Other areas we are interested in studying at the Division of Perceptual Studies:

We welcome written accounts of experiences of these kinds. See What We Study and Contacting Us .

Please visit our Facebook page for news and information about our researchers, our ongoing research projects and videos, as well as articles of interest about our colleagues in this field of research.

At the bottom of each page of this website, you will find a link to our official UVA Division of Perceptual Studies Facebook page. (see below)