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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:

Children Who Claim to Remember Previous Lives (reincarnation)

  • Read an article by Jake Flanagin that appeared in the January/February 2014 edition of The Atlantic magazine about the research being done here at DOPS.

Videos on the topic of Reincarnation Research:

  • Watch 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:

Near-Death Experiences

Video on the topic of Near Death Experience Research: 

  • 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 another excerpt from the same Nour Foundation panel discussion in 2008. In this portion of the video, Dr. Greyson is discussing the idea of consciousness beyond physical brain activity. Click here to view the video.

Radio Interviews on the topic of Near Death Experiences:

  • Listen 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.
  • Follow this link to buy the book.

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 .
  • Follow this link to order the book in hardback. Click here to order Return to Life in paperback.

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.
  • Click here to view the Table of Contents. Follow this link to buy the book.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Follow this link to buy the book.


  • 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.


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.

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