Who We Are

Hidden Brain Media is an independent production company that aims to help curious people understand the world, and themselves.

Our host and Executive Editor Shankar Vedantam has been reporting on human behavior and social science research for more than 25 years. In 2010, he published a book further exploring these topics and introducing the idea of “the hidden brain.”

What, exactly, is the “hidden brain”? This is a term Shankar created to describe a range of influences that manipulate us without our awareness. Some aspects of the hidden brain have to do with mental shortcuts or heuristics; others are related to errors in the way memory and attention work. Some deal with social dynamics and relationships. The “hidden brain,” in other words, is a metaphor, much like the “selfish gene.” Just as there are no strands of DNA that shout, “Me first!” no part of the human brain is disguised under sunglasses and fedora. By drawing a simple line between mental activities we are aware of and mental activities we are not aware of, the “hidden brain” subsumes many concepts in wide circulation: the unconscious, the subconscious, the implicit.

Our exploration of these ideas can be heard every week on the Hidden Brain podcast and radio show. Shankar and NPR launched the podcast in 2015, and it now receives millions of downloads per week, and is regularly listed as one of the top 20 podcasts in the world. Our radio show, which debuted in 2017, is heard on more than 350 public radio stations across the country.

In 2019, we launched Hidden Brain Media to allow us to connect more deeply with our audience and to experiment with new ways of telling Hidden Brain stories across a range of different platforms.

Hidden Brain Staff at NPR HQ
Past and present Hidden Brain staff members at NPR in 2018.