The Division of Perceptual Studies
"I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led."
-Thomas Jefferson (1812)
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)
Video 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:
- Listen to Dr. Jim Tucker describe some of the findings, including unusual play, behavior patterns, specific phobias, and birthmarks or birth defects specifically related to the life and death of a previous personality. He discusses the interpretation of the data and details about the methodology as well as possible pitfalls of individual cases. This interview was conducted by Dean Radin Ph.D. on December 8, 2010. This interview was done for the IONS Telseminars series. Dean Radin is well known for his best selling books The Conscious Universe (HarperOne, 1997) and Entangled Minds (Simon & Schuster, 2006). Dr. Radin is currently Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Psychology at Sonoma State University.
Dr. Greyson presented the DOPS research on NDE's to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to the monks of Dharamsala, December, 2011 at the conference titled Cosmology and Consciousness: A Dialog Between Buddhist Scholars and Scientists on Mind and Matter . Dr. Greyson's talk was titled, "Is Consciousness Produced by the Brain?" 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.
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.
Radio Interviews on the topic of Near Death Experiences:
- Listen to Dr. Bruce Greyson discussing how cumulative research into Near Death Experiences challenges both a classical physical view of reality and an exclusively neuroscience-based view of consciousness. This interview was conducted by Dean Radin Ph.D. on October 13, 2010. The interview was done for the IONS Teleseminars series. Dean Radin is well known for his best selling books The Conscious Universe (HarperOne, 1997) and Entangled Minds (Simon & Schuster, 2006). Dr. Radin is currently Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Psychology at Sonoma State University.
- 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 .
- Deathbed Visions
- Psychophysiological Studies of Altered States of Consciousness and Psi
- EEG Imaging Lab: Experimental Research of Psi Effects and Altered States of Consciousness
Upcoming Lectures and Presentations by DOPS Researchers
Currently there are no public presentations scheduled by our reserachers here at DOPS. Events will be posted as they come up. Please check back frequently.
Recent Lectures and Presentations by DOPS Researchers
July 9th, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Charlottesville, VA The Rutherford Institute Summer Speaker Series, Guest Speaker: Dr. Jim Tucker, Bonner-Lowry Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia. Dr. Tucker presented the research being done at DOPS regarding cases of the reincarnation type: LIFE BEFORE LIFE: CHILDREN'S REPORTS OF PAST-LIFE MEMORIES.
March 22nd, 2012, Virginia Festival of the Book event at the Jefferson Madison Regional Library, Dr. Bruce Greyson moderated a discussion of the Near Death Experience of Eben Alexander III, MD, author of Love After Death: a Neuroscientist's Odessey through the Afterlife.
February 18-19, 2012, Ligmincha Institute, Serenity Ridge Retreat Center in Nelson County, VA, New Dialogues Between Buddhism and Science This was a one and a half day conference with Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and academic presenters associated with the University of Virginia, New York University, University of Texas Medical Center. Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche also participated actively in the dialogue, as well and led group meditation practice at various points in the program.
Ed Kelly PhD, of DOPS, opened the discussion with a presentation titled "Framing the Dialogue". His presentation focused on the history of modern scientific research on meditation.
In this weekend event, researchers presented their work on the impact of contemplative meditation practice on behavior and the mind, as well as examined new areas of research to be explored between scientists and contemplatives.
December 16-18, 2011, Dr. Bruce Greyson travelled to Dharamsala, India to present at the conference, " Cosmology and Consciousness: A Dialog Between Buddhist Scholars and Scientists on Mind and Matter". Dr. Greyson's talk was titled, "Is Consciousness Produced by the Brain?" 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.
September 2-4, 2011, Dr. Bruce Greyson was one of the key-note speakers at the 2011 International Association of Near Death Studies. The Conference theme was Lives Changed Forever: Aftereffects of Near Death Experiences, Perspectives from Experiencers, Science, and Spirituality
February 25-27, 2011, Chopra Foundation's Second International Symposium: Sages and Scientisits-The Merging of a New Future Dr. Jim Tucker presented research being conducted at the Division of Personality Studies regarding the investigation of cases in which children claim to remember previous lives. He will present new cases as well as cases he has written about in his book Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives .
December 8th, 2010, 5:00-7:00, Live Teleseminar, Sponsored by the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Dr. Jim Tucker was the speaker on the teleseminar "Life Before Life" which is also the title of his book Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives . The host of the program is Marylyn Mandala Schlitz, Ph.D.
In the interview, Dr. Tucker challenged the notion that consciousness is only the result of a functioning brain. He suggests that consciousness can be considered separately from the brain, which provides a basis for claims of reincarnation. He also discusses objections to reincarnation: the few persons who actually claim to remember a past life, the fragility of memories, the population explosion, the mind-body problem, fraud, and others. This was a live teleseminar.
October 2nd, 2010, Serenity Ridge Retreat Center in Nelson County, VA, New Directions in the Dialogue between Buddhism and Science This was a one-day workshop with Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, founder and spiritual director of the Ligmincha Institute and the DOPS researchers. There was a guided meditations led by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche in addition to presentations by the DOPS researchers.
Topics covered by the DOPS researchers included:
- Cases of the reincarnation type-Dr. Jim Tucker
- Post-mortem survival-Dr. Emily Williams Kelly
- Near-death experiences-Dr. Bruce Greyson
- Psychic powers or “siddhis”-Dr. Edward Kelly
- Impressions of a Westerner teaching neuroscience to Buddhist monks- Dr. David Presti visiting Neuroscientist from the University of California at Berkeley
News about the Division
Recent books written by the DOPS research faculty
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
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.
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. 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
An important autobiographical lecture given by Dr. Ian Stevenson in 1989.
An essay by Dr. Ian Stevenson as it appeared in the
Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol. 20 (1) Spring , 2006.