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 Hidden Brain
Hidden Brain
Airs: Saturday 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Produced independently, Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world — and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.

Host Shankar Vedantam is a former contributor to Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as a popular podcast host; now audiences will be able to hear Shankar go deeper on intriguing topics.

Recent Episodes
  • As we move through the world, it's easy to imagine we're processing everything that happens around us and then deciding how to respond. But psychologist and neuroscientist Norman Farb says our brains actually navigate the world by coming up with mental maps. These maps act like an autopilot system, allowing us to navigate our lives more efficiently. But sometimes, they can lead us astray, leaving us stuck on a path of negativity and unhappiness. This week, we talk with Norman Farb about how we can update our internal maps and see the world more clearly. If you like this episode, be sure to check out part two of our chat with Norman Farb for Hidden Brain+. That episode is called "Making Sense." You can try Hidden Brain+ for free with a seven-day trial by going to or
  • Cognitive scientist Nafees Hamid studies the minds of people drawn to radical or fringe ideas. This week, he takes us on a deep dive into the motivations of people on the brink of extremism — and those who have already been radicalized. We examine what prompts people to turn to violence, and how to pull them back from the seductive appeal of extremist ideas.Interested in learning more about the themes and ideas we discussed today? Check out these classic Hidden Brain episodes:Romeo and Juliet in KigaliMoral CombatOur podcast subscription, Hidden Brain+, is now available across devices and podcast platforms. You can join on either Apple Podcasts or via our Patreon page. Thanks for your support of the show — we truly appreciate it!
  • You know that negative voice that goes round and round in your head, keeping you up at night? When that negative inner voice gets switched on, it’s hard to think about anything else. Psychologist Ethan Kross has a name for it: chatter. In this favorite conversation from 2022, we talk with Ethan about how to keep our negative emotions from morphing into chatter. Our podcast subscription, Hidden Brain+, is now available across devices and podcast platforms. You can join on either Apple Podcasts or via our Patreon page. Thanks for your support of the show — we truly appreciate it!
  • Across every domain of our lives, our minds have a tendency to get accustomed to things. In fact, the brain seems evolutionarily designed to focus on the new and unexpected, on novel threats and opportunities. In our daily lives, this means we take wonderful things for granted. We cease to appreciate amazing people, or the good fortune of being healthy. This week, neuroscientist Tali Sharot explains why we get used to things — and how to see with fresh eyes.Our podcast subscription, Hidden Brain+, is now available across platforms and devices. You can sign up for a free seven-day trial at or Your subscription provides key support to help us build you many more episodes of Hidden Brain. We’re truly grateful.
  • Some think of religious faith as just that: a leap of faith. But psychologists are increasingly filling in the gaps in our understanding of how beliefs shape — and are shaped by — the human mind. This week, psychologist Ara Norenzayan explores features in the brain that are tied to our capacity for faith. And he shows how all of us, both religious and non-religious people, can use this knowledge to find more meaning in our lives.For more of our reporting on religion and the mind, be sure to check out our episode "Creating God."
  • Have you ever had an unexplainable feeling of emptiness? Life seems perfect - and yet - something is missing. This week, sociologist Corey Keyes helps us understand where feelings of emptiness come from, how to navigate them and why they're more common than we might assume.If you missed it, make sure to listen to last week's episode on Why Trying Too Hard Can Backfire On You. Thanks for listening!
  • Thinking is a human superpower. On a daily basis, thinking and planning and effort bring us innumerable benefits. But like all aspects of human behavior, you can sometimes get too much of a good thing. This week, we talk with philosopher Ted Slingerland about techniques to prevent overthinking, and how we can cultivate the under-appreciated skill of letting go. To hear more of our conversation with Ted Slingerland, be sure to check out our Hidden Brain+ episode with him, available now. You can join Hidden Brain+ via Patreon or Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening!
  • The human drive to invent new things has led to pathbreaking achievements in medicine, science and society. But our desire to create can keep us from seeing one of the most powerful paths to progress: subtraction. In a favorite conversation from 2022, engineer Leidy Klotz shares how streamlining and simplifying is sometimes the best path to innovation. Today's episode concludes our Innovation 2.0 series. If you've enjoyed these episodes, please tell a friend about them! They can find all of the stories in this series in this podcast feed, or at Thanks for listening!
  • Most of us love to brainstorm with colleagues. But so often, our idea-generating sessions don't lead to anything tangible. Teams fill up walls with sticky notes about creative possibilities and suggestions for improvement, but nothing actually gets implemented. Some researchers even have a name for it: "innovation theater." This week, we explore the science of execution. Psychologist Bob Sutton tells us how to move from innovation theater . . . to actual innovation.You can find all the episodes in our Innovation 2.0 series in this podcast feed, or on our website,
  • Think about the last time you asked someone for something. Maybe you were nervous or worried about what the person would think of you. Chances are that you didn’t stop to think about the pressure you were exerting on that person. This week, we continue our Innovation 2.0 series with a 2020 episode about a phenomenon known as as “egocentric bias.” We talk with psychologist Vanessa Bohns about how this bias leads us astray, and how we can use this knowledge to ask for the things we need. Did you catch the first two episodes in our Innovation 2.0 series? You can find them in this podcast feed or on our website. And if you're enjoying this series, please share it with a friend or family member. Thanks!
  • Have you ever been in a situation where you felt that people wrote you off? Maybe a teacher suggested you weren't talented enough to take a certain class, or a boss implied that you didn't have the smarts needed to handle a big project. In the latest in our "Innovation 2.0 series," we talk with Mary Murphy, who studies what she calls "cultures of genius." We'll look at how these cultures can keep people and organizations from thriving, and how we can create environments that better foster our growth.Do you know someone who'd find the ideas in today's episode to be useful? Please share it with them! And if you liked today's conversation, you might also like these classic Hidden Brain episodes: The Edge EffectThe Secret to Great TeamsDream Jobs
  • Why is it so hard to guess where we're meant to be? To predict where we'll end up? Nearly all of us have had the experience of traveling down one road, only to realize it's not the road for us. At the University of Virginia, Saras Sarasvathy uses the lens of entrepreneurship to study how we plan and prepare for the future. We kick off our new "Innovation 2.0" series by talking with Saras about how we pursue goals and make decisions.Do you know someone who might benefit from our conversation with Saras about expert entrepreneurs? Please share it with them if so! And be sure to check out our other conversations about how to get out of ruts and figure out a path forward: Who Do You Want to Be?You 2.0 : How to Break Out of a Rut