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Social Science

Hidden Brain

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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.

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When Did Marriage Become So Hard?

51:13 | Feb 13th, 2018

Marriage is hard — and there are signs it's becoming even harder. This week on Hidden Brain, we examine how long-term relationships have changed over time, and whether we might be able to improve marriage by asking less of it.

Ep. 71: The Fox and the Hedgehog

37:42 | May 16th, 2017

The Greek poet Archilochus is known for the phrase, "The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one big thing." This week, we'll use this metaphor as a way to understand two different cognitive styles. The first is that of a tactician who is comfortable...Show More

Buying Attention

38:25 | Jan 2nd, 2018

Have you ever opened your computer with the intention of sending one email — only to spend an hour scrolling through social media? Maybe two hours? In this episode, we examine the strategies media companies use to hijack our attention so they can sel...Show More

You 2.0: Deep Work

36:34 | Jul 25th, 2017

When your phone buzzes or a notification pops up your screen, do you stop what you're doing to look and respond? That's what many of us are doing. Even though we think we should be less distracted by technology, we haven't admitted the true cost of t...Show More

The Edge of Gender

51:22 | Oct 10th, 2017

Gender is one of the first things we notice about the people around us. But where do our ideas about gender come from? Can gender differences be explained by genes and chromosomes, or are they the result of upbringing, culture and the environment? Th...Show More

Why Now?

52:00 | Feb 6th, 2018

Nearly a quarter century ago, a group of women accused a prominent playwright of sexual misconduct. For the most part, the allegations went nowhere. In 2017, in the midst of the #MeToo movement, more women came forward to accuse the same playwright o...Show More

Radio Replay: Life, Interrupted

50:47 | Dec 1st, 2017

What price do we pay for the constant interruptions we get from our phones and computers? And is there a better way to handle distraction? In this week's Radio Replay we bring you a favorite conversation with the computer scientist Cal Newport. Plus,...Show More

Voting With Your Middle Finger

49:14 | Oct 15th, 2018

There is one truth that has endured through the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency: he has kept the support of the core voters who propelled him to the White House. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore two competing perspectives on the mot...Show More

Counting Other People's Blessings

51:53 | Feb 27th, 2018

Envy is one of the most unpleasant of all human emotions. It also turns out to be one of the most difficult for researchers to study. And yet, there's mounting evidence that envy is a powerful motivator. This week, we explore an emotion that can insp...Show More

You 2.0: Dream Jobs

23:07 | Aug 1st, 2017

Why do you work? Are you mostly in it for the money, or do you have another purpose? Popular wisdom says your answer depends on the nature of your job. But psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski finds it may have more to do with how we think about our work. S...Show More

Compassion

19:09 | Dec 24th, 2018

This week, we look at the science of compassion, and why doing good things for others can make a big difference in your own life.

Why Now?

52:02 | Sep 24th, 2018

Nearly a quarter century ago, a group of women accused a prominent playwright of sexual misconduct. For the most part, the allegations went nowhere. In 2017, in the midst of the #MeToo movement, more women came forward to accuse the same playwright o...Show More

Liar, Liar

29:07 | Apr 10th, 2018

We all lie. But what separates the average person from the infamous cheaters we see on the news? Dan Ariely says we like to think it's character — but in his research he's found it's more often opportunity. Dan Ariely is a professor at Duke Universit...Show More

The Lonely American Man

48:07 | Mar 20th, 2018

Boys get the message at a young age: don't show your feelings. Don't rely on anyone. This week, we take a close look at misguided notions of masculinity in the United States. We explore how those notions create stressed-out romantic relationships, ph...Show More

Men: 45, Women: 0

22:10 | Mar 6th, 2018

More women are running for political office than ever before in American history. But in politics and many other fields, women still struggle to attain positions of power. Researchers say they're often trapped in a "double bind" — a series of unconsc...Show More

Lost in Translation

35:25 | Jan 30th, 2018

Learning new languages can help us understand other cultures and countries. Cognitive science professor Lera Boroditsky says the languages we speak can do more than that—they can shape how we see the world in profound ways.

Radio Replay: Don't Panic!

51:06 | Dec 22nd, 2017

Chaos is a part of all of our lives. Sometimes we try to control it. And other times, we just have to live with it. On this week's Radio Replay, we explore different strategies for coping with chaos.

The Sorting Hat

51:36 | Dec 5th, 2017

The desire to find our tribe is universal. We like to know who we are and where we belong. This fascination has led to a thriving industry built on the marketing and sale of personality tests. These tests offer individuals — and, increasingly, employ...Show More

Money Talks

25:46 | Nov 28th, 2017

How do you spend your money? On shoes, cars, coffee, fancy restaurants? You might think you use money just to, you know, buy stuff. But as Neeru Paharia explains, the way we spend often says a lot about who we are, and what we want to project. We use...Show More

An American Secret

22:55 | Nov 21st, 2017

All countries have national myths. The story of the first Thanksgiving, for example, evokes the warm glow of intercultural contact: European settlers, struggling to survive in the New World, and Native American tribes eager to help. As many of us lea...Show More

Eyes Wide Open: Part 2

35:59 | Nov 14th, 2017

What does the song "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones have in common with the periodic table of elements? Both are the products of dreams. The sleeping brain is far more active than we realize, argues neuroscientist Matthew Walker in this second pa...Show More

Just Sex

25:09 | Sep 26th, 2017

We all know casual sex isn't about love. But what if it's not even about lust? Sociologist Lisa Wade believes the pervasive hookup culture on campuses today is different from that faced by previous generations. This week on Hidden Brain, we revisit a...Show More

You 2.0: Decide Already!

25:35 | Aug 22nd, 2017

In the latest in our You 2.0 series, we bring you a favorite conversation with Harvard researcher Dan Gilbert. He tells us why we're bad at predicting our future happiness, how that affects our decision making, and why we are actually happier after m...Show More

Summer Melt

25:38 | Jul 18th, 2017

According to research from Harvard, as many as 40% of kids who intend to go to college at the time of high school graduation don't actually show up in the fall. Education researchers call this phenomenon "summer melt," and it has long been a puzzling...Show More

In The Air We Breathe

38:10 | Jun 6th, 2017

After a police-involved shooting, there's often a familiar blame game: Maybe the cop was racist. Maybe the person who was shot really was threatening. Or maybe, the bias that leads cops to shoot affects us all. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore h...Show More

Broken Windows

30:47 | May 30th, 2017

In the early 1980s, a couple of researchers wrote an article in The Atlantic that would have far-reaching consequences. The article introduced a new idea about crime and policing. It was called Broken Windows. The idea was simple: A broken window is ...Show More

Ep. 68: Schadenfacebook

27:09 | Apr 18th, 2017

Millions of people around the world use social media every day to stay in touch with friends and family. But ironically, studies have shown that people who spend more time on these sites feel more socially isolated than those who don't. This week on ...Show More

Episode 61: Just Sex

24:47 | Feb 14th, 2017

We all know casual sex isn't about love. But what if it's not even about lust? Sociologist Lisa Wade believes the pervasive hookup culture on campuses today is different from that faced by previous generations. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore w...Show More

Episode 55: Snooki and the Handbag

26:45 | Dec 13th, 2016

Look down at what you're wearing. You picked out that blue shirt, right? And those boots — you decided on those because they're warm, didn't you? Well, maybe not. Researcher Jonah Berger says, we tend to be pretty good at recognizing how influences l...Show More

Episode 53: Embrace the Chaos

24:49 | Nov 29th, 2016

Many of us spend lots of time and energy trying to get organized. We KonMari our closets, we strive for inbox zero, we tell our kids to clean their rooms, and our politicians to clean up Washington. But Economist Tim Harford says, maybe we should emb...Show More

Episode 38: Me, Me, Me

24:58 | Jul 12th, 2016

It doesn't take a psychologist to see narcissism in our culture of selfies. But we decided to talk to one anyway. Jean Twenge is a researcher and author of the books The Narcissism Epidemic, and Generation Me.

Episode 35: Creature Comforts

29:02 | Jun 21st, 2016

This week, Hidden Brain considers the power of touch. First, Alison MacAdam tells us the story of her security blanket, called Baba. Then, Shankar interviews writer Deborah Blum about groundbreaking experiments into the importance of affection for yo...Show More

Episode 21: Stroke of Genius

24:43 | Feb 23rd, 2016

Derek Amato wasn't born a musical savant. He became one—almost instantly—after hitting his head on the bottom of a swimming pool.

The Best Medicine

48:37 | Jan 14th

This week, a scientific look at what makes us laugh. Here's a hint — a lot of it isn't funny. We talk to neuroscientist (and stand up comedian) Sophie Scott.

The Cowboy Philosopher

51:11 | Jan 7th

In 2009, an old man died in a California nursing home. His obituary included not just his given name, but a long list of the pseudonyms he'd been known to use. In this episode, we trace the life of Riley Shepard, a hillbilly musician, writer, smal...Show More

Loss and Renewal

26:37 | Dec 31st, 2018

Maya Shankar was well on her way to an extraordinary career as a violinist when an injury closed that door. She eventually found a new path forward in a very different field.

Radio Replay: Yum and Yuck

49:43 | Dec 21st, 2018

We dig into the psychology that determines the foods that make us salivate and the scents that make us squirm.

Alan Alda Wants Us To Have Better Conversations

41:58 | Dec 17th, 2018

We've all experienced miscommunications. Their consequences can range from hilarious... to disastrous. The actor Alan Alda — yes, that Alan Alda — wants to help us avoid them.

Starving the Watchdog

30:34 | Dec 10th, 2018

When a newspaper shuts down, jobs are lost and local stories go untold. There's also a consequence that's harder to spot, and it has a hefty price tag for residents.

Spoiler Alert!

29:30 | Dec 3rd, 2018

Why do we always fall for surprise endings? It turns out that our capacity to be easily fooled in books and movies is made possible by a handful of predictable mental shortcuts. We talk this week with Vera Tobin, one of the world's first cognitive sc...Show More

A Founding Contradiction

44:21 | Nov 26th, 2018

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." These words, penned by Thomas Jefferson more than 240 years ago, continue to inspire many Americans. And yet they were written by a man who owned hundreds of slaves, and fath...Show More

Radio Replay: Bringing Up Baby

49:46 | Nov 23rd, 2018

We try to translate the mysterious language of babies. And we ask, when should we step back and just let our children be?

The Edge of Gender

52:51 | Nov 19th, 2018

Gender is one of the first things we notice about the people around us. But where do our ideas about gender come from? Can gender differences be explained by genes and chromosomes, or are they the result of upbringing, culture and the environment? In...Show More

Zipcode Destiny

52:03 | Nov 12th, 2018

There's a core belief embedded in the story of the United States: the American Dream. This week we discuss the state of that dream with economist Raj Chetty.

Sounds Like a Winner

26:04 | Nov 5th, 2018

We're used to the idea that rhetoric sways voters. But what about another element of language: a candidate's voice?

The Lazarus Drug

49:31 | Oct 29th, 2018

More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses last year — many of them from heroin and other opioids. One of the most widely-used tools to confront this crisis is a drug called naloxone. It can reverse an opioid overdose within seconds, and has been...Show More

Radio Replay: Too Little, Too Much

49:05 | Oct 26th, 2018

Have you ever noticed that when something important is missing in your life, your brain can only seem to focus on that missing thing? On this week's Radio Replay, we bring you a March 2017 story about the phenomenon of scarcity, and how it can blind ...Show More

Be The Change

52:09 | Oct 22nd, 2018

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." It's a popular quote that's made its way onto coffee mugs and bumper stickers — but it's not the easiest principle to live. On this week's Hidden Brain, we meet Royce and Jessica James, a couple who decid...Show More

Red Brain, Blue Brain

26:15 | Oct 8th, 2018

When we think about how we came to our political views, we often assume our life experiences are the root of our political ideologies. But what if there is something deeper at play?

"Man Up"

42:30 | Oct 1st, 2018

You've certainly heard some variation of the phrase "be a man." But what does that even mean? On this episode of Hidden Brain, we discuss masculinity.

Radio Replay: Eyes Wide Open

49:58 | Sep 21st, 2018

When Randy Gardner was 17, he won a world record for going eleven days without sleeping. On this Radio Replay, Randy shares insights from that experience and warns others against copying his stunt. Later in the program, we speak with neuroscientist M...Show More

The Cassandra Curse

35:17 | Sep 17th, 2018

After a disaster happens, we want to know whether something could have been done to avoid it. Did anyone see this coming? Many times, the answer is yes. So why didn't the warnings lead to action? This week, we explore the psychology of warnings with ...Show More

Our Better Nature

25:54 | Sep 11th, 2018

If you live in a big city, you may have noticed new buildings popping up — a high-rise here, a skyscraper there. The concrete jungles that we've built over the past century have allowed millions of us to live in close proximity, and modern economies ...Show More

Bullshit Jobs

45:23 | Sep 4th, 2018

Have you ever had a job where you had to stop and ask yourself: what am I doing here? If I quit tomorrow, would anyone even notice? This week on Hidden Brain, we talk with anthropologist David Graeber about the rise of what he calls "bullshit jobs," ...Show More

You 2.0: Check Yourself

51:44 | Aug 28th, 2018

The simple "to-do" list may be one of humanity's oldest tools for getting organized. But checklists are also proving essential in many modern-day workplaces, from operating rooms to the cockpits of jumbo jets. As part of our summer You 2.0 series, we...Show More

You 2.0: Originals

22:09 | Aug 21st, 2018

What does it mean to be an original? As part of our summer series, You 2.0, we talk with psychology professor Adam Grant about innovators and the challenges they face. Adam gives his take on what makes an original, how parents can nurture originalit...Show More

You 2.0: When Did Marriage Become So Hard?

51:26 | Aug 14th, 2018

There are signs it's getting even harder. In this episode, we explore how long-term relationships have changed over time and whether we might be able to improve marriage by asking less of it.

You 2.0: The Ostrich Effect

27:01 | Aug 7th, 2018

Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power...right? As part of our summer series, You 2.0, we try to understand why we stick our heads in the sand.

You 2.0: Dream Jobs

23:17 | Jul 31st, 2018

Finding a new job may be the solution to your woes at work. But there may also be other ways to get more out of your daily grind. This week, we talk with psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski of Yale University about how we can find meaning and purpose in o...Show More

You 2.0: Rebel With A Cause

47:25 | Jul 24th, 2018

Francesca Gino studies rebels — people who practice "positive deviance" and achieve incredible feats of imagination. They know how, and when, to break the rules that should be broken. So how can you activate your own inner non-conformist? We kick off...Show More

Radio Replay: Watch Your Mouth

49:50 | Jul 20th, 2018

If you're bilingual or multilingual, you may have noticed that different languages make you stretch in different ways. In this month's Radio Replay, we ask whether the structure of the languages we speak can change the way we see the world. We'll als...Show More

Creating God

53:26 | Jul 17th, 2018

If you've taken part in a religious service, have you ever stopped to think about how it all came to be? How did people become believers? Where did the rituals come from? And most of all, what purpose does it all serve? This week, we explore these qu...Show More

Snooki and the Handbag

25:05 | Jul 10th, 2018

Look down at what you're wearing. You picked out that blue shirt, right? And those sandals — you decided on those because they're comfortable, didn't you? Well, maybe not. Researcher Jonah Berger says we tend to be pretty good at recognizing how infl...Show More

The Edge Effect

38:21 | Jul 3rd, 2018

There is great comfort in the familiar. It's one reason humans often flock to other people who share the same interests, laugh at the same jokes, hold the same political views. But familiar ground may not be the best place to cultivate creativity. Fr...Show More

Fake News: An Origin Story

27:19 | Jun 26th, 2018

Fake news may seem new, but in reality, it's as old as American journalism. This week, we look at a tension at the heart of news coverage: Should reporters think of the audience as consumers, or as citizens? Should the media give people what they wa...Show More

Radio Replay: Looking Back

50:02 | Jun 22nd, 2018

Why are we so often pulled into memories of the past? This week, two emotions we just can't shake: regret and nostalgia.

Summer Melt

25:53 | Jun 19th, 2018

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,...Show More

Hungry, Hungry Hippocampus

28:39 | Jun 12th, 2018

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.

When Everything Clicks

51:32 | Jun 5th, 2018

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 ...Show More

Kinder-Gardening

29:21 | May 29th, 2018

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 h...Show More

Rewinding & Rewriting

30:33 | May 22nd, 2018

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 eve...Show More

Radio Replay: This Is Your Brain On Ads

51:15 | May 18th, 2018

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 o...Show More

Baby Talk

30:29 | May 15th, 2018

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 de...Show More

Rap on Trial

55:16 | May 8th, 2018

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 hi...Show More

The Fox and the Hedgehog

37:38 | May 1st, 2018

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....Show More

Emma, Carrie, Vivian

41:41 | Apr 24th, 2018

In 1924, a 17-year-old girl was admitted to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded. The superintendent of the colony classified her as "feeble-minded of the lowest grade, moron class." With that designation, this girl, Carrie Buck,...Show More

Radio Replay: The Weight of Our Words

49:35 | Apr 20th, 2018

Political correctness. Free speech. Terrorism. On this week's Radio Replay, we look at the language we use around race and religion, and what that language says about the culture in which we live. This episode draws upon two of our favorite podcasts,...Show More

Romeo and Juliet in Kigali

51:54 | Apr 17th, 2018

How do you change someone's behavior? Most of us would point to education or persuasion. But what if the answer lies elsewhere? Today we explore a revolutionary insight about human nature, one that will take us on a journey from Budapest to the hills...Show More

Tunnel Vision

36:40 | Apr 3rd, 2018

When you're hungry, it can be hard to think of anything other than food. When you're desperately poor, you may constantly worry about making ends meet. When you're lonely, you might obsess about making friends. This week, we bring you a March 2017 ep...Show More

Crickets and Cannibals

33:11 | Mar 27th, 2018

Imagine seeing a cockroach skitter across your kitchen counter. Does that thought gross you out? This week, we take an unflinching look at the things that make us say "ewww." Plus, why disgust isn't as instinctive as we might assume.

Radio Replay: The Mind of the Village

49:38 | Mar 16th, 2018

A culture of racism can infect us all. On this week's Radio Replay, we discuss the implicit biases we carry that have been forged by the society around us.

Think Fast with Daniel Kahneman

48:50 | Mar 13th, 2018

Do humans act rationally? Economic theory has long told us the answer is "yes." But a half century ago, two psychologists — Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky — began to challenge this notion. Their work laid the foundation for behavioral economics and...Show More

Filthy Rich

22:05 | Feb 20th, 2018

Several years ago, sociologist Brooke Harrington decided to explore the secret lives of billionaires. As she told us in this favorite episode from 2016, what she found shocked her.

Radio Replay: The Power Hour

49:48 | Jan 26th, 2018

Call it adulation, adoration, idolization: we humans are fascinated by glamour and power. But this turns out to be only one side of our psychology — we also feel envious and resentful of the rich and powerful. In this Radio Replay, we explore the evo...Show More

Alan Alda Wants Us To Have Better Conversations

42:32 | Jan 23rd, 2018

We've all experienced miscommunications. Their consequences can range from hilarious... to disastrous. The actor Alan Alda — yes, THAT Alan Alda — wants to help us avoid them. You might know him from his roles on television shows like M*A*S*H, The We...Show More

Give Me Your Tired...

21:17 | Jan 16th, 2018

Our airwaves are filled with debates about immigrants and refugees. Who should be allowed in the United States, who shouldn't, and who should decide? In the wake of President Trump's vulgar remarks about some immigrants — remarks that he has since de...Show More

Radio Replay: I, Robot

49:46 | Jan 12th, 2018

Do you ever catch yourself yelling at your Alexa? Or typing questions into Google that you wouldn't dare ask aloud? On this episode, our changing relationship with technology and what big data knows about our deepest, darkest secrets.

E Pluribus Unum?

37:54 | Jan 9th, 2018

The tone of American politics can be...nasty. But is this nastiness really worse than in previous eras, and if so, what does that mean for our democracy? Historian David Moss takes the long view — arguing that American democracy is much more resilien...Show More

Radio Replay: Fresh Starts

51:53 | Dec 30th, 2017

Unpredictable things happen to us all the time. In the process of getting back on your feet, you may realize that something's different. On this Radio Replay, we mark the new year with two of our favorite stories of loss and the change it brings.

I'm Right, You're Wrong

24:31 | Dec 26th, 2017

There are some topics about which it seems no amount of data will change people's minds: things like climate change, or restrictions on gun ownership. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot says that's actually for good reason. As a general rule, she says, it's ...Show More

Never Go To Vegas

50:36 | Dec 19th, 2017

All social classes have unspoken rules. From A-list celebrities to teachers, doctors, lawyers, and journalists — there are social norms that govern our decisions, whether we realize it or not. This week on Hidden Brain, the invisible qualities that a...Show More

Kinder-Gardening

29:22 | Dec 12th, 2017

Many parents think they can shape their child into a particular kind of adult. Psychologist Alison Gopnik says the science suggests otherwise. She thinks we'd all be better off if we had a different understanding of the relationship between parents a...Show More

Radio Replay: Loving the Lie

49:56 | Dec 8th, 2017

In this week's Radio Replay, we bring you stories of fakes, phonies, and con men — and the people who fall for the false worlds they create. First, the tale of a middle-aged man who impersonates a series of women and gets thousands of men to fall in ...Show More

Radio Replay: Crime As A Disease

48:31 | Nov 17th, 2017

In moments of anger, it can be hard to take a deep breath or count to ten. But public health researcher Harold Pollack says five minutes of reflection can make all the difference between a regular life and one spent behind bars. This week, we visit a...Show More

Eyes Wide Open: Part 1

24:51 | Nov 7th, 2017

Randy Gardner broke a world record in 1963, when he was only 17 years old. His feat? Going 11 days without sleeping. Randy, now 71, shares his wisdom about staying up past your bedtime — and why none of us should attempt to recreate his teenage stunt...Show More

Radio Replay: Prisons of Our Own Making

49:57 | Nov 3rd, 2017

Discussions about healthy living usually revolve around diet and exercise. Social interaction is often left out of the conversation, even though research shows that it's critical to our well-being. On this week's radio replay, we'll explore research ...Show More

Check Yourself

51:18 | Oct 31st, 2017

The simple "to-do" list may be one of humanity's oldest tools for keeping organized. But checklists are also proving essential in many modern-day workplaces, from operating rooms to the cockpits of jumbo jets. This week, we explore the power of the h...Show More

Radio Replay: What's In It For Me?

51:38 | Oct 27th, 2017

Coincidences can make the everyday feel extraordinary. But are they magical, or just mathematical? On this week's Radio Replay, we explore our deep fascination with these moments of serendipity. New research suggests they reveal important things abou...Show More

Misbehaving with Richard Thaler

26:17 | Oct 24th, 2017

We don't always do what we're supposed to do. We don't save enough for retirement. We order dessert — even when we're supposed to be dieting. In other words, we misbehave. That's the title of Richard Thaler's most recent book: Misbehaving: The Making...Show More

The Good Old Days

27:48 | Oct 17th, 2017

Is nostalgia an emotion that's bitter, or sweet? Why are we so often pulled into memories of the past? This week on Hidden Brain, we talk about what prompts us to feel nostalgic, and the harms and benefits of this emotion. Plus, how Donald Trump empl...Show More

Be The Change

51:35 | Oct 3rd, 2017

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." It's a popular quote that's made its way onto coffee mugs and bumper stickers — but it's not the easiest principle to live. On this week's Hidden Brain, we meet Royce and Jessica James, a couple who decid...Show More

The Ostrich Effect

26:46 | Sep 19th, 2017

Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power...right? In this episode of Hidden Brain, we explore why we sometimes avoid information that's vital to our well-being.

Regrets, I Have A Few...

30:25 | Sep 12th, 2017

We all have regrets. By some estimates, regret is one of the most common emotions experienced in our daily lives. This week we'll hear listeners' stories of regret, and talk with psychology professor Amy Summerville. She runs the Regret Lab at Miami ...Show More

Hiding Behind Free Speech

29:24 | Sep 5th, 2017

Several weeks ago, white supremacists took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, in a demonstration that left many Americans asking a lot of questions. Who are we as a nation? What do we stand for, and what do we tolerate? The United States go...Show More

You 2.0: Getting Unstuck

29:09 | Aug 29th, 2017

At one time or another, many of us feel stuck: in the wrong job, the wrong relationship, the wrong city – the wrong life. Psychologists and self-help gurus have all kinds of advice for us when we feel rudderless. This week on Hidden Brain, we conclud...Show More

You 2.0: WOOP, There It Is

20:59 | Aug 15th, 2017

Many of us have heard that we should think positively and visualize ourselves achieving our goals. But researcher Gabriele Oettingen finds this isn't actually the best advice. Instead, she says, we should use her strategy — which she calls WOOP.

You 2.0: Embrace the Chaos

24:59 | Aug 8th, 2017

Many of us spend lots of time and energy trying to get organized. We tell our kids to clean their rooms, and our politicians to clean up Washington. But economist Tim Harford says maybe we should embrace the chaos. This week, as part of our You 2.0 s...Show More

Could You Kill A Robot?

33:55 | Jul 11th, 2017

Will we one day create machines that are essentially just like us? People have been wrestling with that question since the advent of robotics. But maybe we're missing another, even more intriguing question: what can robots teach us about ourselves? W...Show More

Losing Face

24:54 | Jul 4th, 2017

It happens to all of us: someone recognizes you on the street, calls you by name, and says hello... and you have no idea who that person is. Researchers say this struggle to read other faces is common. This week on Hidden Brain, super-recognizers, an...Show More

Guessing Games

28:12 | Jun 27th, 2017

Pundits and prognosticators make predictions all the time: about everything from elections, to sports, to global affairs. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore why they're often wrong, and how we can all do it better.

"Is he Muslim?"

27:48 | Jun 20th, 2017

In a five year period from 2011 to 2016, just twelve percent of terrorist attacks in the United States were perpetrated by Muslims. More than fifty percent, on the other hand, were carried out by Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, or other far right grou...Show More

Rap on Trial

55:08 | Jun 13th, 2017

Olutosin Oduwole was an aspiring rapper and college student when he was arrested in 2007. He was given an unusual charge: "attempting to make a terrorist threat." Prosecutors used his writings — which he maintains were rap lyrics — to build their cas...Show More

Me, Myself, and IKEA

25:12 | May 23rd, 2017

It's normal to feel drawn to people you share something with — whether that's a name, or a birthday, or a common background. But did you know that women named Georgia also gravitate toward the state of Georgia? And Virginias are slightly more likely ...Show More

Encore of Ep. 45: What Are The Odds?

25:12 | May 9th, 2017

This week on Hidden Brain: coincidences. Why they're not quite as magical as they seem, and the reasons we can't help but search for meaning in them anyway.

Ep. 70: Who We Are At 2 A.M.

28:20 | May 2nd, 2017

Have you ever googled something that you would never dream of saying out loud to another human being? Many of us turn to Google when we have a deeply personal or embarrassing question. And we're often more honest when we type our questions into searc...Show More

Episode 69: Money Talks

24:52 | Apr 25th, 2017

How do you spend your money? On food, transportation, or housing? On shoes, cars, coffee, fancy restaurants? You might think you use money just to, you know, buy stuff. But as Neeru Paharia explains, the way we spend often says a lot about who we are...Show More

Encore of Ep. 35: Creature Comforts

29:48 | Apr 11th, 2017

This week, Hidden Brain considers the power of touch. First, Alison MacAdam tells us the story of her security blanket, called Baba. Then, Shankar interviews writer Deborah Blum about groundbreaking experiments into the importance of affection for yo...Show More

Ep. 67: The Hole

26:26 | Apr 4th, 2017

Imagine a concrete room, not much bigger than a parking space. You're in there 23 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is the reality of solitary confinement at prisons across the United States. Keramet Reiter, a criminology professor at UC Irvine, says ...Show More

Ep. 66: Liar, Liar

29:46 | Mar 28th, 2017

Everybody lies. This is not breaking news. But what separates the average person from the infamous cheaters we see on the news? Dan Ariely says we like to think it's character — but in his research he's found it's more often opportunity. Dan Ariely i...Show More

Episode 65: Tunnel Vision

36:40 | Mar 21st, 2017

When you're hungry, it can be hard to think of anything other than food. When you're desperately poor, you may constantly worry about making ends meet. When you're lonely, you might obsess about making friends. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore t...Show More

Ep. 64: I'm Right, You're Wrong

23:14 | Mar 14th, 2017

There are some topics about which it seems no amount of data will change people's minds: things like climate change, or restrictions on gun ownership. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot says that's actually for good reason. As a general rule, she says, it's ...Show More

Encore of Ep. 24: Tribes and Traitors

30:27 | Mar 7th, 2017

Nearly a year ago, we ran an episode about one of the world's most intractable divides: the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Since that story aired, a solution seems even more out of reach. We wanted to play this episode again, because it offers somethi...Show More

Ep. 63: "I'm Not A Terrorist..."

23:58 | Feb 28th, 2017

Making jokes about politics is a tradition as old as America itself. These days, of course, comedians have a new target: President Donald Trump. We talk with Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani about finding humor in the midst of deep political div...Show More

Episode 62: On The Knife's Edge

28:18 | Feb 21st, 2017

What would drive someone to take another person's life? When researchers at the University of Chicago asked that question, the answer was a laundry list of slights: a stolen jacket, or a carelessly lobbed insult. It made them wonder whether crime rat...Show More

Encore of Episode 20: Remembering Anarcha

27:43 | Feb 7th, 2017

A recent paper found that black patients receive less pain medication for broken bones and cancer. Black children receive less pain medication than white children for appendicitis. The research is new, but the phenomenon is not. This week, we revisit...Show More

Episode 60: Fortress America

22:47 | Jan 31st, 2017

Barely a week after assuming office, President Donald Trump set off a worldwide firestorm when he decided to temporarily ban entry to migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from all over the world. In response, many people are loo...Show More

Episode 59: The Deep Story

22:46 | Jan 24th, 2017

In the months since the presidential election, many have noted that lots of Americans live in bubbles — echo chambers filled with the voices of people who mostly agree with us. Sociologist Arlie Hochschild felt this long before the rise of Donald Tru...Show More

Episode 58: Pedestals and Guillotines

23:21 | Jan 17th, 2017

It's inauguration season, which means balls, parades, and celebrations. We may love the pomp and circumstance, but there's another, darker side to our psychology, too. Whether we like the new president or not, human beings have a strange and contradi...Show More

Episode 57: Slanguage

26:04 | Jan 10th, 2017

Young people have always used language in new and different ways, and it has pretty much always driven older people crazy. But the linguist John McWhorter says all the "likes" and LOLs are part of a natural – and inevitable –evolution of language. Th...Show More

Episode 56: Getting Unstuck

28:24 | Jan 3rd, 2017

At one time or another, many of us feel stuck: in the wrong job, the wrong relationship, the wrong city – the wrong life. Psychologists and self-help gurus have all kinds of advice for us when we feel rudderless. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore...Show More

Encore of Episode 15: Loss and Renewal

27:45 | Dec 27th, 2016

Maya Shankar was well on her way to an extraordinary career as a violinist when an injury closed that door. This week, we look at how she wound up at the top of another field: the social sciences.

Encore of Episode 32: The Scientific Process

28:53 | Dec 20th, 2016

There is a replication "crisis" in psychology: many findings simply do not replicate. Some critics take this as an indictment of the entire field — perhaps the best journals are only interested in publishing the "sexiest" findings, or universities ar...Show More

Episode 54: Panic in the Streets

25:25 | Dec 6th, 2016

It sounds like the plot of a movie: police discover the body of a young man who's been murdered. The body tests positive for a deadly infectious disease. Authorities trace the killing to a gang. They race to find gang members linked to the murder... ...Show More

Episode 52: Losing Face

24:03 | Nov 22nd, 2016

It happens to all of us: someone recognizes you on the street, calls you by name, and says hello... and you have no idea who that person is. Researchers say this struggle to read other faces is common. This week on Hidden Brain, super-recognizers, an...Show More

Episode 51: What Happened?

28:22 | Nov 15th, 2016

On the morning after election day, pundits, pollsters, politicians, and citizens woke up feeling stunned. All signs, all year, had been pointing towards a victory for Democrat Hillary Clinton. So, what happened? We ask one of the few people who didn'...Show More

Encore of Episode 27: Losing Alaska

25:55 | Nov 8th, 2016

We didn't hear very much about climate change during this election cycle — and social science research might give us some insight as to why not. This week, an encore of one of our favorite episodes about why it's so hard for us to wrap our heads arou...Show More

Episode 50: Broken Windows

30:01 | Nov 1st, 2016

In the early 1980s, a couple of researchers wrote an article in The Atlantic that would have far reaching consequences. The article introduced a new idea about crime and policing. It was called Broken Windows. The idea was simple: A broken window is ...Show More

Episode 49: Filthy Rich

21:34 | Oct 25th, 2016

Several years ago, sociologist Brooke Harrington decided to explore the secret lives of billionaires. What she found, she said, shocked her.

Episode 48: Men: 44, Women: 0

21:12 | Oct 18th, 2016

A century after women won the vote in the US, we still see very few of them in leadership roles. Researchers say women are trapped in a catch-22 known as "the double bind." Note: an early version of this episode incorrectly stated that Carol Moseley ...Show More

Episode 47: Give Me Your Tired...

22:22 | Oct 11th, 2016

Our airwaves are filled with debates about migrants, refugees, and undocumented immigrants... Who should be in the United States, who shouldn't, and who should decide? Immigration is, without question, a flash point in this year's political debates. ...Show More

Episode 46: Blessings in Disguise?

21:51 | Oct 4th, 2016

We have lots of ways to describe the good that can come from bad: a blessing in disguise, a silver lining — but what if the bad thing was truly awful? This week on Hidden Brain, framing and re-framing a tragedy.

Episode 45: What Are The Odds?

29:32 | Sep 27th, 2016

This week on Hidden Brain, coincidences. Why they're not quite as magical as they seem... and the reasons we can't help but search for meaning in them anyway.

Trailer: Hidden Brain 2.0

2:17 | Sep 22nd, 2016

We have an anniversary to celebrate. We've been bringing you Hidden Brain for a year now, and we are so glad and thankful you've come along with us. We've learned a lot about what you like, and what we like. Specifically, deep dives into stories or t...Show More

Update: #AirbnbWhileBlack

25:06 | Sep 20th, 2016

A few months ago, Hidden Brain investigated claims that Airbnb users were facing discrimination on the platform. Now, we bring you an update on the company's response.

Episode 44: Our Politics, Our Parenting

23:21 | Sep 13th, 2016

In the midst of a rancorous election, we present a new theory to explain why the two sides of the aisle seem irreconcilable sometimes.

Episode 43: The Perils of Power

26:21 | Sep 6th, 2016

We've all heard the old adage that "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," but psychologist Dacher Keltner at UC Berkeley has found evidence to prove it. His book is The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence.

Encore of Episode 21: Stroke of Genius

25:21 | Aug 30th, 2016

Derek Amato wasn't born a musical savant. He became one—almost instantly—after hitting his head on the bottom of a swimming pool.

Episode 42: Decide Already!

24:11 | Aug 23rd, 2016

This week, Harvard researcher Dan Gilbert tells us why we're bad at predicting our future happiness, how that affects our decision making, and why we are actually happier after making a decision that feels irrevocable.

Encore of Episode 11: Forgery

24:57 | Aug 16th, 2016

This week on Hidden Brain, we explore real and fake, from fine art to fine wine. Shankar speaks with Noah Charney, author of The Art of Forgery, about why art forgers are compelled to spend their lives copying the great masters, and why so many of th...Show More

Episode 41: Defeated

21:03 | Aug 9th, 2016

While everyone is focused on the Olympic winners in Rio, we're zooming in on loss. We have the story of how a world-champion judo player reacted to a devastating defeat, plus a Stopwatch Science on how losing affects us all.

Episode 40: Silver and Gold

22:24 | Aug 2nd, 2016

The rush of victory or crush of defeat in the Olympics can flash by very quickly. But if you slow those moments down, there's a lot to learn about human behavior.

Encore of Episode 7: Lonely Hearts

33:00 | Jul 26th, 2016

Jesse always wanted to fall in love. So when the perfect woman started writing him letters, it seemed too good to be true. Because it was. This week, a story about a con — with a twist. When the con was exposed, its victims defended the con artists. ...Show More

Episode 39: Vacations

16:43 | Jul 19th, 2016

Summer vacations often take time, energy and money to plan. Expectations can run unreasonably high. This week in Stopwatch Science, we dive into what research says about how to have a better getaway.

Episode 37: Smoke & Mirrors

25:02 | Jul 5th, 2016

Six months ago, Hidden Brain's Max Nesterak made a resolution to quit smoking. But as we all know... resolutions are made to be broken. This week, we check in with Max to find out how he's fared, and give you social science insight to help you quit y...Show More

Episode 36: Science of Deception

17:05 | Jun 28th, 2016

This week on Hidden Brain, we find out what makes humans of all ages cheat. Plus in Stopwatch Science, Dan Pink comes armed with studies on how our social context influences our cheating habits.

Encore of Episode 13: Terrorism

26:43 | Jun 14th, 2016

In the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando, we explore how groups such as the Islamic State explicitly try to capitalize on the grievances and individual frustrations of potential "recruits."

Episode 34: Google at Work

26:32 | Jun 7th, 2016

This week on Hidden Brain, Shankar talks to Google's Laszlo Bock for insider tips and insights about what works — and what doesn't work — in recruiting, motivating, and retaining a talented workforce.

Episode 33: Food for Thought

19:39 | May 31st, 2016

What do large tables, large breakfasts, and large servers have in common? They all affect how much you eat. This week on Hidden Brain, we look at the hidden forces that drive our diets.

Episode 32: The Scientific Process

28:17 | May 24th, 2016

Lots of psychology studies fail to produce the same results when they are repeated. How do scientists know what's true?

Episode 31: Your Brain on Uber

30:02 | May 17th, 2016

Uber is built on the scourge of surge. When demand is high, the company charges two, three, even NINE-POINT-NINE times as much as normal for a ride. Riders hate it . . . but not so much that they stop riding. Yep, "dynamic pricing" has helped the com...Show More

Episode 30: WOOP, There It Is

21:34 | May 10th, 2016

Many of us have heard that we should think positive... Visualize ourselves achieving our goals. But researcher Gabriele Oettingen finds, this isn't actually the best advice. Instead, we should use her strategy — which she calls WOOP.

Episode 29: Traffic

17:01 | May 3rd, 2016

Traffic. You hate it, we hate it, the rest of the world hates it, and unfortunately, our best efforts to curb it usually only make it worse. This week on Hidden Brain, we visit a few of the world's most congested cities, and investigate a few options...Show More

Episode 28: #AirbnbWhileBlack

22:29 | Apr 26th, 2016

The sharing economy is great. It gives us opportunities to connect with strangers... to pool resources... to get a cheap ride, or a weekend away. But this week on Hidden Brain, we'll look at how these new platforms can amplify some old biases.

Episode 27: Losing Alaska

24:56 | Apr 19th, 2016

Human beings would be better at fighting climate change if we weren't so, well, human. In this episode, we explore the psychological barriers to addressing climate change.

Encore of Episode 16: Misbehaving

24:24 | Apr 12th, 2016

From eating marshmallows to spending lottery winnings, Shankar Vedantam talks with behavioral economist Richard Thaler about Misbehaving.

Episode 26: Grit

29:27 | Apr 5th, 2016

Grit is a quality that parents strive to teach to their children, and teachers strive to teach their students. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore grit, and ask, does it also have a downside?

Episode 25: Dream Jobs

21:44 | Mar 29th, 2016

Why do you work? Are you just in it for the money, or do you do it for a greater purpose? Popular wisdom says your answer depends on what your job is. But psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski at Yale University finds it may have more to do with how we think...Show More

Episode 24: Tribes and Traitors

28:29 | Mar 22nd, 2016

This week on Hidden Brain, two remarkable stories of empathy... And why showing empathy for another group can feel so threatening to our own tribes.

Episode 23: Boredom

21:22 | Mar 15th, 2016

We've all been there: bored in class, bored at work, bored in standstill traffic. But why do we find boredom so unbearable? And, if we hate being bored so much, why do we still take boring jobs? This week on Hidden Brain, we try to answer these quest...Show More

Encore of Episode 9: Aziz Ansari on Modern Love

27:51 | Mar 8th, 2016

Hidden Brain host Shankar Vedantam talks to comedian Aziz Ansari — star of Master of None and coauthor of Modern Romance — about Tinder, texting and how dating is a bit like... buying jam.

Episode 22: Originals

21:21 | Mar 1st, 2016

Adam Grant, author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, tells us what makes an original, how parents can nuture originality in their children, and its potential downside.

Episode 20: Remembering Anarcha

26:41 | Feb 16th, 2016

J. Marion Sims is remembered as the father of modern gynecology. Forgotten are the mothers—the enslaved women whose bodies were sacrificed for the advancement of his research.

Episode 19: Dating and Mating

23:30 | Feb 9th, 2016

It's almost Valentine's Day, but this week we're not talking about love. Instead, we explore the other forces that drive our romantic relationships.

Encore of Episode 2: Near Victories

25:34 | Feb 2nd, 2016

Shankar Vedantam explores "almosts" and "not quites" on this episode of the Hidden Brain podcast, with the help of Monica Wadhwa, Dan Pink, and country music singer Kacey Musgraves.

Episode 18: The Paradox of Forgiveness

20:06 | Jan 26th, 2016

After more than a decade of brutal civil war, perpetrators and victims attempted to find peace around bonfires across Sierra Leone. This week on Hidden Brain, a story about forgiving the unforgivable, and the cost of reconciliation.

Episode 17: Resolutions

23:38 | Jan 19th, 2016

Today is the perfect day to (re)start your resolution. Here's how.

Episode 16: Misbehaving

23:34 | Jan 12th, 2016

From eating marshmallows to spending lottery winnings, Shankar Vedantam talks with behavioral economist Richard Thaler about his book Misbehaving.

Encore of Episode 3: Stereotype Threat

22:25 | Jan 5th, 2016

Annie Duke was often the only woman at the poker table, which influenced the way people saw her, and the way she saw herself. Feeling like an outsider can come at a cost, but also can be an advantage.

Episode 15: Loss and Renewal

26:29 | Dec 29th, 2015

Maya Shankar was well on her way to an extraordinary career as a violinist when an injury closed that door. This week, we look at how she wound up at the top of another field: the social sciences.

Episode 14: Christmas

22:40 | Dec 22nd, 2015

This is the time of year for giving--whether that's a holiday gift for someone we love, or a charitable donation to a good cause. But why do we give? And how can we do it better? This week on Hidden Brain: how to be more generous, get your friends an...Show More

Episode 13: Terrorism

27:05 | Dec 15th, 2015

Why do young people join ISIS? Is it nihilism, or, as social scientists suggest, a perverse idealism? This week on Hidden Brain, we explore the psychology of terrorist groups, and why so many young people leave behind promising futures to join them.

Episode 12: Humor

20:39 | Dec 8th, 2015

This week on Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam looks at what we find funny and what, well, crosses the line. Comedian Bill Burr joins us to talk about why race, gender and Caitlin Jenner can be so funny.

Episode 11: Forgery

24:21 | Dec 1st, 2015

This week on Hidden Brain, we explore real and fake, from fine art to fine wine. Shankar speaks with Noah Charney, author of The Art of Forgery, about why art forgers are compelled to spend their lives copying the great masters, and why so many of th...Show More

Episode 10: Thanksgiving

19:42 | Nov 24th, 2015

The holidays are all about generousity, gratitude, and spending time with the people we love. But we all know the whole "spending time with the people we love" part has its challenges. Hidden Brain is here to help — with science-based tips to give yo...Show More

Episode 9: Aziz Ansari on Modern Love

27:12 | Nov 17th, 2015

Hidden Brain host Shankar Vedantam talks to comedian Aziz Ansari — star of a new Netflix show and coauthor of Modern Romance — about Tinder, texting and how dating is a bit like... buying jam.

Episode 8: Back Up Plans

25:35 | Nov 10th, 2015

This week on Hidden Brain, researcher Katy Milkman explains why backup plans may make us less motivated, Dan Pink is back to discuss moral hazard, and NPR's Adam Cole ties it all together with a song.

Episode 7: Lonely Hearts

33:07 | Nov 3rd, 2015

Jesse always wanted to fall in love. So when the perfect woman started writing him letters, it seemed too good to be true. Because it was. This week, a story about a con — with a twist. When the con was exposed, its victims defended the con artists. ...Show More

Episode 6: The Science of Fear

21:35 | Oct 27th, 2015

This week, for Halloween, the Hidden Brain podcast gets spooky. We explore the science of fear — traveling to a haunted house curated by a scientist to investigate what scares us, and why some people enjoy this sensation more than others.

Episode 5: Compassion

20:05 | Oct 20th, 2015

On this week's episode of Hidden Brain, we'll explore the science of compassion, and how being kind to others can make a real difference in your own life.

Episode 4: Students and Teachers

20:14 | Oct 13th, 2015

In this episode of the Hidden Brain podcast, the connections between students and teachers, and how finding things in common between them might be a tool for closing the achievement gap.

Episode 3: Stereotype Threat

22:59 | Oct 6th, 2015

Annie Duke was often the only woman at the poker table, which influenced the way people saw her, and the way she saw herself. Feeling like an outsider can come at a cost, but also can be an advantage.

Brain Bonus: Magic Brain

4:46 | Oct 2nd, 2015

In time for your Friday commute, we introduce you to a new segment called Magic Brain. Shankar explores the social science behind magic, and discovers that free choice is sometimes just an illusion.

Episode 2: Near Victories

24:17 | Sep 29th, 2015

Shankar Vedantam explores "almosts" and "not quites" on this episode of the Hidden Brain podcast, with the help of Monica Wadhwa, Dan Pink, and country music singer Kacey Musgraves.

Episode 1: Switchtracking

30:45 | Sep 22nd, 2015

The first episode of Hidden Brain explores switchtracking: a common pattern in conversations you'll be accusing your partner of in no time! Plus speedy science, a cup of tea and a song from Adam Cole.

Hidden Brain: A Sneak Peek

5:32 | Sep 4th, 2015

Check out a few minutes of the latest podcast from NPR: Hidden Brain. Shankar Vedantam explores what happens when two people think they are talking about the same thing, but in reality are speeding down separate tracks. It usually doesn't end well.

Welcome to the Hidden Brain Podcast

1:23 | Aug 9th, 2015

A conversation about life's unseen patterns. Discover what's inside your Hidden Brain... subscribe now.