WNYC’s Radiolab created the most intriguing audio science story I’ve ever heard. Aired this week on NPR’s Morning Edition, two narrators play off each other to lure you through the back story that sets up the report on an astonishing experiment.

A marketing professor had a set of subjects memorize a 2-digit number and another set memorize a 7-digit number. All were told to go down the hall to the next room and recite the number. Along the way, though, they are offered a choice between chocolate cake or fruit.

cake vs fruit

Amazingly, the 7-digit memorizers overwhelmingly chose cake while the 2-digits chose fruit. The theory: two parts of the prefrontal cortex — a rational and an emotional — are in a tug of war. Occupy the rational one with a job like remembering a 7-digit number and the emotional part gets a free shot at calling the shots. The theory explains why when we’re tired, at the end of the day at work, we are more prone to yield to temptation of a snack or an extra martini.

You have to hear the Radiolab creators dramatize the war of the cortexes to appreciate this excellent example of news storytelling. I also like NPR’s rewriting of audio stories so that they are appropriate for the online reader. In this case, the Web account retains the humor but executes in a completely different way.

There are no comments so far

Leave a Comment

Don't worry. We never use your email for spam.

Don't worry. We never use your email for spam.