Hidden Brain

Shanker Vedantam runs the Hidden Brain podcast for National Public Radio. In Hidden Brain, Shanker explores the world and the people in it. He uses science and storytelling to help us understand why we do the things we do.

Hidden Brain wide


Each week Shanker takes us on a journey inside the brains of humans. He uses research from psychology and neurobiology along with economics, anthropology, sociology and much more. This podcast has won numerous awards including a Kavli Science Journalism Award and an Edward R Murrow Award for Excellence in Social Media.

What I Liked:

This podcast is always interesting. So far I haven’t found an episode I haven’t been interested in. Shanker finds great subjects and dives deep while keeping it interesting.

Shanker, while somewhat monotone, still manages to present his information in a way that keeps you listening and focused. Partly this is done by keeping the episodes short. Most of the episodes are 30 minutes or less.

There’s a section where Shanker and a colleague have a limited time to present the findings of a research study related to the topic at hand. They manage to pack a lot of information into a small time slot.

I especially like how all the episodes are based on actual research and not just on hearsay. There is always an expert and there are always research studies to back up the information presented.

Areas for Improvement:

As mentioned before, Shanker can be a bit monotone. So, if you are already tired and starting to doze off, this would not be a good choice. Luckily he has enough guests and other speakers to offset his monotone voice.

One other issue I have is that, in order to maintain the weekly format, episodes are recycled occasionally. This makes sense on radio but not as much in a podcast format where anyone can go back and listen to any episode they want. I understand he is trying to keep the podcast showing up in search results but I don’t really want to listen to each episode multiple times.


I would definitely recommend this podcast to anyone that has any interest in learning how humans work and why we do the things we do. Understanding humans can only lead to better interactions with those around us, especially if we are trying to teach humans how to train dogs.

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