Hidden Brain Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.

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Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.More from Hidden Brain »

Most Recent Episodes

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Radio Replay: Looking Back

Why are we so often pulled into memories of the past? In this month's Radio Replay, we'll find out why we all get stuck reliving the old days, ruminating on what we could have done differently, and what we wish we could do again.

Radio Replay: Looking Back

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Summer Melt

As many as 40 percent of students who intend to go to college don't actually show up to their new campuses in the fall. Education researchers call this phenomenon "summer melt," and it has long been a puzzling problem. These kids have taken the SATs, written college essays, applied to and been accepted by a school of their choice. Often they've applied for and received financial aid. So why would they not show up at college? This week, we bring you a 2017 episode looking more closely about the problem — and one way to address it.

Summer Melt

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Hungry, Hungry Hippocampus

Anyone who's tried (and failed) to follow a diet knows that food is more than fuel. This week, we dig into the psychology behind what we eat, what we spit out, and when we come back for more.

Hungry, Hungry Hippocampus

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When Everything Clicks

A dog and a pigeon respond to a hand holding a clicker. A doctor looks on, surrounded by "noise" over her head. Angela Hsieh/NPR hide caption

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Angela Hsieh/NPR

When Everything Clicks

There can be a lot of psychological noise involved in teaching. But what if we replaced all that mental chit chat....with a click? This week, we explore an innovative idea about how we learn. It will take us from a dolphin exhibit in Hawaii to a top teaching hospital in New York. It's about a method to quiet the noise. The sort of clutter that can turn learning into a minefield of misery.

When Everything Clicks

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Kinder-Gardening

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Kinder-Gardening

Many parents think they can shape their child into a particular kind of adult. Psychologist Alison Gopnik says the science suggests otherwise. This week, we revisit our December 2017 conversation with Gopnik, who thinks we'd all be better off if we had a different understanding of the relationship between parents and kids.

Kinder-Gardening

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Courtesy of Laura Odgen

Rewinding & Rewriting

All of us are time travelers. We go back in history to turning points in our lives, and imagine how things could have turned out differently. Psychologists refer to this as "counterfactual thinking." This week on Hidden Brain, we look at why some events prompt these "What if?" questions, while others do not.

Rewinding & Rewriting

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Radio Replay: This Is Your Brain On Ads

How many ads have you encountered today? On this week's radio replay, we discuss the insidiousness of advertising in American media. We begin with new reporting about the effects cereal commercials have on children. Later in the program, we revisit one of our favorite episodes of 2018, Buying Attention.

Radio Replay: This Is Your Brain On Ads

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Baby Talk

Babies are speaking to us all the time, but most of us have no clue what they're saying. To researchers, though, the babbling of babies is knowable, predictable, and best of all, teachable to us non-experts. This week, we'll get a primer on how to decipher babbling — the unique dialect of tiny humans.

Baby Talk

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Shankar Vedantam /NPR

Rap on Trial

Olutosin Oduwole was an aspiring rapper and college student when he was arrested in 2007. He was charged with "attempting to make a terrorist threat." Prosecutors used his writings — which he maintains were rap lyrics — to build their case against him. The week, we revisit our June 2017 story about Oduwole, and explore how public perceptions of rap music may have played a role in his prosecution.

Rap on Trial

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Renee Klahr

The Fox and the Hedgehog

The Greek poet Archilochus wrote that "the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." This week, we'll use the metaphor of the fox and the hedgehog as a way to understand the differences between tacticians and big-picture thinkers. We'll explore the story of a pioneering surgeon whose hedgehog tendencies led him to great triumphs, and a heartbreaking tragedy. This episode first aired in May 2017.

The Fox and the Hedgehog

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