“Hidden Brain explores the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior and questions that lie at the heart of our complex and changing world.”
Imagine years of academic research distilled down to a 45-minute conversation. The conversation is easy to understand and offers new ways to look at things. It’s unimposing, yet applicable to your own life. It’s also calming to listen to. That is roughly what you can expect from a podcast called Hidden Brain.
Hosted by Shankar Vedantam, a social science correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR) in the USA, Hidden Brain draws on social science and storytelling to examine everyday social dynamics. It aims to “connect the ivory tower with the public square”. Its team is guided by the principles of “scientific and journalistic rigor” and “deep empathy” for listeners and contributors. As a result, listeners gain new perspectives on culture and society.
“We’re almost sort of wincingly earnest as a team and as a show, laughs Tara Boyle, the executive producer of the show. “I like that about us. I think there needs to be more space in the world for vulnerabilities.”
The show started out as a podcast in 2015 and later spun off a radio programme for NPR stations. In late 2020, the show spawned an independent production company.
In this episode of MetaPod, we talk to Tara Boyle, executive producer of the show. Tara shares the origin story of the podcast and explains Shankar Vedantam’s skill in bringing together a wide range of research topics into accessible discussions about society, culture and self. Tara also discusses how listener feedback and suggestions are incorporated into the show. Plus, she reveals some of the most popular aspects of the show according to its global base of listeners.
MetaPod recommendations for Hidden Brain
- The Snowball Effect (with Damon Centola)
- Justifying The Means (with Peter Singer)
- Minimizing Pain, Maximizing Joy (with William Irvine)
- Laughter: The Best Medicine
Show notes for Hidden Brain
About Tara Boyle
Tara Boyle is Executive Producer of the Hidden Brain podcast and radio show, and the head of content for Hidden Brain Media. Tara oversees the production of both the Hidden Brain radio show and podcast, providing editorial support to host Shankar Vedantam and the shows’ producers. She also provides strategic support to Shankar in the development of new projects for Hidden Brain Media. Previously, Tara spent a decade at WAMU, the NPR station in Washington, D.C. She has reported for The Boston Globe, and began her career in public radio at WBUR in Boston.