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Hidden Brain

Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam

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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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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 extrem…
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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 …
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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 hea…
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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 …
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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 …
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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 o…
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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 innovat…
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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 th…
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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.” W…
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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 g…
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