Jim Tucker, MD

Jim B. Tucker, MD

Children’s Reports of Past-Life Memories


Researchers at the University of Virginia, beginning with Ian Stevenson, have investigated children’s reports of memories of previous lives for the past fifty years, studying more than 2,500 cases from around the world.

Common features in the cases include a child talking about a past life at a very early age, behaviors that appear connected to that life such as phobias related to the mode of death, and sometimes birthmarks or birth defects that correspond to wounds the previous person suffered.

Recent work has included the study of some impressive American cases, along with statistical analysis of the various features of the cases that attempts to clarify the processes involved in the apparent memory transfer.


Jim B. Tucker, M.D. is Bonner-Lowry Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neuro-Behavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia. He is continuing the work of Ian Stevenson at the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies with children who report memories of previous lives.

The research has now been conducted for over fifty years, and Stevenson, its founder, published many scholarly articles and books about cases from all over the world. Tucker wrote an overview of the work in 2005, entitled Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children’s Memories of Previous Lives, and it has been translated into ten languages. His latest book, Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives, is a collection of recent American cases.

Dr. Tucker took over the project when Stevenson retired in 2002. While most of the cases Stevenson studied were in Asia, Tucker decided to focus on ones in the United States, where the lack of a belief in reincarnation means cultural factors are less likely to influence the cases.

Dr. Tucker attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA degree in psychology in 1982, followed by a Medical Degree four years later. He then completed a residency in general psychiatry and a fellowship in child psychiatry at the University of Virginia. After nine years in private practice, he returned to the University to pursue the research. He has since published numerous articles in scientific journals, in addition to his two books. A board-certified child psychiatrist, he also served as the medical director of the UVA Child and Family Psychiatry Clinic for nine years.

He has spoken before both scientific and general audiences and has made a number of television appearances, including Good Morning America, Larry King Live, and CBS Sunday Morning.