52. How (and when) to Listen to Podcasts

Most of us don’t give a lot of thought to how and when we listen to podcasts. But like most of life, an intentional approach can reap benefits. In this episode, Josh Russell walks us through: strategies for maximizing retention, listening based on brain state, new data on listening while driving, the value of silence.


Listen on:


Guest Bio:  Joshua Russell, MD is clinician, writer, and educator.  Since completing residency training in Emergency Medicine, Dr. Russell has had a varied career including supervising PAs and NPs as a medical director for a regional Urgent Care network, contributing to various Hippo Education podcasts, and serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Urgent Care Medicine (JUCM). Most recently, he has completed fellowship training in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

This episode is in support of the I AM ALS. I AM ALS was founded by Brian Wallach and his wife Sandra shortly after his diagnosis at the age of 37. He was given 6 months to live, and now 4 years later he is leading a revolution to find a cure. People often refer to ALS as rare, which is not really so. The lifetime risk is around 1 in 300. Since Lou Gehrig was diagnosed 80 years ago, available treatments have been shown to extend life a mere 3 months. I AM ALS supports research, legislation to fast track therapies, and provides critical resources to patients and caregivers. ALS is relentless, and so are they. The question is no longer if we'll find a cure for ALS, but when. This is an underfunded disease and every little bit makes a difference. We will match donations to I AM ALS up to $5000 -- get started here on our Stimulus Donation Page. And for your daily dose of positivity, follow Brian on Twitter.


We discuss:

  • Strategies for maximizing retention of podcast content [04:20];
  • How your working memory is like the RAM of your brain [08:40];
  • Why Josh prefers to listen to podcasts in the morning as this is when he is best able to focus [10:20];
  • The importance of using your brain for tasks that are appropriate for the state that it’s in [12:45];
  • The fact that not every interstitial moment needs to be occupied by something educational or entertaining  [15:55];
  • How Rob consumes podcasts [17:10];
  • A recent study which evaluated the knowledge gained from listening to podcasts while driving compared to that gained from undistracted listening  [20:40];
  • The value of silence [24:10];
  • A functional MRI study which shows that listening to a story-based podcast lights up huge areas of the brain [28:35];
  • A study in mice which found that 2 hours of silence per day led to neurogenesis whereas background or white noise didn't [29:00];
  • And more.


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