'How do our brains handle grief?' Mary-Frances O'Connor presentation featured by TedX Talks

June 1, 2023
Mary Frances O'Connor

Mary-Frances O'Connor at Ted X UArizona in January 2023. (Photo: Chris Richards, UArizona)

Click here to view dr. O'Connor's presentation

Mary-Frances O’Connor, PhD is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, and author of The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss. She directs the Grief, Loss and Social Stress (GLASS) Lab, which investigates the effects of grief on the brain and the body. O’Connor earned a doctorate from the University of Arizona in 2004 and completed a fellowship at UCLA. Following a faculty appointment at UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, she returned to the University of Arizona in 2012. Her work has been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, and Psychological Science, and featured in Newsweek, the New York Times, and The Washington Post. Having grown up in Montana, she now lives in Tucson, Arizona. For more information go to https://www.maryfrancesoconnor.com

Dr. O’Connor ponders these questions: Why does it take so long to learn our loved one is really gone and what does this mean for our own lives? Learning is hard in part because our brains can listen to two conflicting streams of information at the same time. Powerful neurochemicals, like oxytocin, opioids and dopamine, reward us for reuniting with our loved ones, and create deep, strong yearning in their absence. Thankfully, our attachment neurobiology is actually set up to learn to transform our relationship to our deceased loved one. Mary-Frances discusses how the human brain can create new pathways in order to learn what life is like after we experience a loss and become someone who carries both grief and the absence of another.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

Click here to view Dr. o'Connor's presentation