David A. Raichlen

About David A. Raichlen

Our lab is focused on understanding how humans' unique evolutionary history explains modern human physiological variation and how we can use an evolutionary context to improve health and well-being today. Specifically, we believe a shift towards high levels of physical activity during our tansition to hunting and gathering in the past led to a physiological requirement for physical activity to maintain the health of organ systems from our brains, to our cardiovascular system, to our musculoskeletal system. While we explore the links between human evolution, physical activity, and health across the lifespan, we believe this perspective can play a major role in preventing and managing diseases that occur late in life. In the end, a full understanding of our evolutionary history will help explain how and why our current, more sedentary lifestyle impacts our physical and mental health, and how we can use this evolutionary context to improve well-being today.

Our research program has three main components:
1) Reconstructing activity levels during human evolution (evolutionary biomechanics)
2) Exploring energetics and physical activity levels in extant taxa, including human hunter-gatherers
3) Linking the evolution of high physical activity levels to physiology, neurobiology, and health in extant humans

Tying together these three components allows us to more fully understand how increased aerobic activity levels affected the trajectory of human evolution.

Selected Publications

(Click here for a complete list of publications and links to pdfs)

Raichlen, D.A. & Alexander, G.E. (2017) Adaptive Capacity: An evolutionary-neuroscience model linking exercise, cognition, and brain health. Trends in Neurosciences. 40:408-421.

Raichlen, D.A. & Gordon, A.D. (2017) Interpretation of Footprints from Site S Confirms Human-like Bipedal Biomechanics in Laetoli Hominins. Journal of Human. 107:134-138. 

Raichlen, D.A., Pontzer, H., Harris, J.A., Mabulla, Z.P., Marlowe, F.W., Snodgrass, J.J., 
Eick, G., Berbesque, J.C., Sancilio, A., Wood, B.M. (2017) Physical activity patterns and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk in hunter-gatherers. American Journal of Human Biology. 29:e22919 

Sparrow, L.M., Yu, S., Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D.A., Rolian, C. (2017) Gait changes in a line of mice artificially selected for long limbs. PeerJ. 5:e3008. 

Raichlen, D.A., Bharadwaj, P.K., Fitzhugh, M.C., Haws, K.A., Torre, G., Trouard, T.P., Alexander, G.E. (2016) Differences in resting state functional connectivity between young adult endurance athletes and healthy controls. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 10:610. 

Webber, J.T., Raichlen, D.A. (2016) The role of plantigrady and heel-strike in the 
mechanics and energetics of human walking with implications for the evolution of the human foot. Journal of Experimental Biology. 219:3729-3737.

Kuhn, S.L., Raichlen, D.A., Clark, A. (2016) What moves us? How mobility and movement are at the center of human evolution. Evolutionary Anthropology. 25:86-97. 

Pontzer, H., Brown, M.H., Raichlen, D.A., Dunsworth, H., Hare, B., Schroepfer-Walker, K., Luke, A., Dugas, L., Durazo-Arvizu, R., Schoeller, D., Plange-Rhule, J., Bovet, P., Forrester, T.E., Lambert, E.V., Thompson, M.E., Grebe, N., Gangstead, S.W., Ross, S.R. (2016) Metabolic acceleration and the evolution of human brain size and life history. Nature. 533:390-392. 

Klimentidis, Y., Arora,Y., Chougule,A., Zhou, J., Raichlen, D.A.(2016) FTO association and interaction with time spent sitting. International Journal of Obesity40:411-416. 

Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D.A., Wood, B.M., Emery Thompson, M.E., Racette, S.B., Mabulla, A.Z.P., Marlowe, F.W. (2015) Energy expenditure and activity among Hadza hunter-gatherers. American Journal of Human Biology. 27:628-637 

Raichlen, D.A.,Gordon, A.D., Foster, A.D., Webber, J., Sukhdeo, S.M., Scott, R.S., Gosman, J.H., Ryan, T.M. (2015) An ontogenetic framework linking locomotion and trabecular bone architecture with applications for reconstructing hominin life history. Journal of Human Evolution. 81: 1-12.

Raichlen, D.A., Alexander, G.E. (2014) Exercise, APOE genotype, and the evolution of the human lifespan. Trends in Neurosciences

Raichlen, D.A., Wood, B.M., Gordon, A.D., Mabulla, A.X., Marlowe, F.W., Pontzer, H. (2014)
Evidence of scale-free Lévy walk foraging in human hunter-gatherers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111: 728-733. 

Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D.A., Rodman, P.S. (2014) Bipedal and quadrupedal locomotion in chimpanzees. Journal of Human Evolution. 66: 64-82. 

Pontzer, H, Raichlen, D.A., Gordon, A.D., Schroepfer-Walker, K.K., Hare, B., O’Neill, M.C., Muldoon, K.M., Dunsworth, H.M., Wood, B.M., Isler, K., Burkart, J., Irwin, M., Shumaker, R.W., Lonsdorf, E.V., Ross, S.R. (2014) Primate energy expenditure and life history. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111: 1433-1437. 

Raichlen, D.A.,Polk, J.D. (2013) Linking brains and brawn: exercise and the evolution of human neurobiology. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 280: 20122250 

Raichlen, D.A., Foster, A.D., Seillier, A., Giuffrida, A., Gerdeman, G.L. (2013) Exercise-induced endocannabinoid signaling is modulated by intensity. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 113:869-875 

Raichlen, D.A.,Foster, A.D., Gerdeman, G.L., Seillier, A., Giuffrida, A. (2012) Wired to run: exercise-induced endocannabinoid signaling in humans and cursorial mammals with implications for the 'runner's high'. Journal of Experimental Biology. 215:1331-1336. 

David A. Raichlen's picture

Contact Information

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Telephone: 520.626.4543
Office: Emil W. Haury Building, Room 310D