Review: NPR’s Hidden Brain series provides great insights


Morgan Vehige

Hidden Brain is a podcast series hosted by journalist Shankar Vedantam that looks deeply into daily curiosities in an easily understood way.

Grace Kirtley

I love podcasts. Crime podcasts. Political podcasts. Investigative podcasts. But there is one podcast that I never seem to be disappointed in, and that is NPR’s Hidden Brain series by journalist Shankar Vedantam.

The series is a collection of 20 to 40 minute in-depths of “unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships,” according to NPR’s website. Vedantam brings incredible insight and curiosity to each topic. His questions are eloquent yet easy to grasp, especially if there is relevant background information.

A few of my favorite episodes include: “I Buy, Therefore I Am: How Brands Become Part Of Who We Are,” “More Divided Than Ever? Excavating the Roots Of Our Political Landscape” and “What Twins Can Tell Us About Who We Are.”

However, my favorite episode I’ve listened to is “What’s Not On The Test: The Overlooked Factors That Determine Success.” This episode has great insight into the important aspects of education and how America’s education has shifted throughout history, both in positive and negative aspects. Over 12 years of education is meant to prepare us for life and success; this episode looks into the actualization of that goal. 

Vedantam found a great story about a program meant to change lives, and it was eye-opening to listen to how an increase of intentionality in preschooling changed the trajectory of impoverished children. This example, as well as others, elucidate how this is a great podcast that changed my perspective of the education system. “What’s Not On The Test” is just one example of the great episodes that Hidden Brain has to offer.

Although there are some episodes that aren’t always able to keep my attention for the whole time, I always find that I learn something new and find a deeper aspect of understanding of human nature. 

If you enjoy podcasts and, well, just learning about humans, then Hidden Brain is a must-watch.