The Division of Perceptual Studies

The Division of Perceptual Studies

TJ painting


"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:


The Atlantic MagazineHere 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.


  UVA Alumni Magazine, Dec 2013

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 here 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:

 Dr. Jim Tucker video

  • 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.




Radio Interviews on the topic of Reincarnation Research:



Listen 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


Dr. 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:

UVA Alumni Magazine, summer 2007Read 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 and HH the Dalai LamaDr. 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. Bruce Greyson presenting


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".Dr. Bruce Greyson presenting at the Noor Foundation

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.



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 .



     Recent books written by the DOPS research faculty


Beyond Physicalism: Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality

Beyond Physicalism: Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality is the product of an unusual fellowship of scientists and humanities scholars who dispute the view that reality is purely physical, and that human beings are nothing more than extremely complicated biological machines. In their previous publication, Irreducible Mind, the authors argued that the notion of physicalism cannot accommodate various well-evidenced empirical phenomena including paranormal or psi phenomena, postmortem survival, and mystical experiences. In this new theory oriented companion volume, the authors go further by attempting to understand how the world must be constituted in order that these so-called "rogue" phenomena can occur.

Drawing on empirical science, metaphysical philosophy, and the mystical traditions, the authors work toward an improved "big picture" of the general character of reality, one which strongly overlaps territory traditionally occupied by the world's institutional religions, and which attempts to reconcile science and spirituality by finding a middle path between the polarized fundamentalisms, religious and scientific, that have dominated recent public discourse.


Return to Life by Dr. Jim Tucker

Dr. Jim Tucker, in a follow-up to his book Life Before Life,explores American cases of young children who report specific memories of previous lives.  Dr. Tucker has interviewed a number of extraordinary children with memories of past lives.

Return to Life focuses mostly on American cases, presenting each family's story and describing his investigation into the cases.  His goal is to determine what happened, what the child has said, how the parents have reacted, whether the child's statements match the life of a particular deceased person, and whether the child could have learned such information through normal means.  Dr. Tucker has found cases that provide persuasive evidence that some children do, in fact, possess memories of previous lives. To find out more about this book and other aspects of Dr. Tucker's research follow this link to his website .


Science, the Self, and Survival after Death

Ian Stevenson was a prominent and internationally-known psychiatrist, researcher, prolific author, and well-regarded figure in the field of psychical research.  Science, the Self, and Survival after Death: Selected Writings of Ian Stevenson is the first book devoted to surveying the entirety of his work and the extraordinary scope and variety of his research. He studied universal questions that cut to the core of a person’s identity: What is consciousness? How did we become the unique individuals that we are? Do we survive in some form after death? Stevenson’s writings on the nature of science and the mind-body relationship, as well as his empirical research, demonstrate his strongly held belief that the methods of science can be applied successfully to such humanly vital questions. Featuring a selection of his papers and excerpts from his books, this collection presents the larger context of Stevenson’s work and illustrates the issues and questions that guided him throughout his career. Our esteemed colleague, Emily Williams Kelly,  is the editor of this collection of Dr. Stevenson's writing.


image of handbook of NDEs

  The Handbook of Near-Death Experience: Thirty Years of Investigation In this book, DOPS researchers Bruce Greyson, Carlos Alvarado, Nancy Zingrone, Edward F. Kelly, and Emily Williams Kelly as well as many other notable researchers in the field of near-death experiences share the history and current state of near-death experience research and knowledge. They explore controversies in the field, offer specific accounts of NDE's from the research, and express their hopes for the future of investigation into this fascinating phenomenon.The book is edited by Janice Miner Holden, Bruce Greyson, and Debbie James.  Follow this link to buy the book.


  • Click here for a list of other publications by Dr. Bruce Greyson as listed on Google Scholar. Also, see our DOPS Publications Page for pdfs of articles by Dr. Greyson and our other esteemed DOPS research colleagues.



Edward F. Kelly, Emily Williams Kelly, Adam Crabtree, Alan Gauld,  Michael Grosso, and Bruce Greyson have co-authored Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century . Current mainstream scientific opinion holds that all aspects of human mind and consciousness are generated by physical processes occurring in the brain.  This book demonstrates with empirical evidence that this reductive materialism is not only incomplete but false.

Click this link to see the paper Empirical Challenges to Conventional Mind-Brain Theory written by Edward F. Kelly and Emily Williams Kelly. This is an excellent digest of the main empirical arguments contained in their book  Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century.



Dr. Jim Tucker is the author of Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives, which is a review of our research with children who report memories of previous lives written for the general public.

Follow this link to buy the book

A review of this book appeared in the Journal of Scientific Exploration , 19 (4), 2005 , by Harvard Biologist Michael Levin. Read the review.




Dr. Stevenson UVA 1969

The late Dr. Ian Stevenson, Founder of the Division of Perceptual Studies
October 31, 1918-February 8, 2007
We invite you to read Dr. Stevenson's obituary,
written by our esteemed colleague, Emily Williams Kelly Ph.D.
Below are some publications reflecting  Dr. Ian Stevenson's thoughts regarding his involvement
in the study of paranormal phenomena.


The Flora Levy Lecture in the Humanities

An important autobiographical lecture given by Dr. Ian Stevenson in 1989.


Half A Career with the Paranormal

An essay by Dr. Ian Stevenson as it appeared in

the Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol. 20 (1) Spring , 2006.