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Hidden Brain
Saturdays at 3pm

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.

Our audience takes uncommon pleasure in the world of ideas. How do children come to love spicy foods? Why do religions exist? What's the best way to get people to be honest on their taxes? Hidden Brain explores questions like these that lie at the very heart of a complex and changing society.

Hosted by NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, Hidden Brain links research from psychology and neurobiology with findings from economics, anthropology, and sociology, among other fields. The goal of Hidden Brain isn't merely to entertain, but to give you insights to apply at work, at home and throughout your life.

Find a list of the latest episodes of Hidden Brain below. Learn more about the show here.

  • After getting into a car crash, Lilah was comforted by someone unexpected.
  • 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 … Changing Our Mental Maps Read More »
  • A favorite from the archives: In a time of grief, a stranger's family gave him the ultimate gift.
  • 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.
  • After Molly's husband died in a skiing accident, a friend came up with a novel idea to offer support.
  • 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. He says it's part of the human condition, but there are ways to keep our negative emotions from morphing into chatter.
  • Shortly before it was her turn to perform in a piano competition, Angela's nerves were getting the best of her. Then a competitor did something that changed her day — and her life.
  • 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.
  • Karen felt overwhelmed at the prospect of clearing out her parents’ old belongings. Then someone stepped in to help.
  • 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.