Detlef Heck, Ph.D.

Detlef Heck, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology


The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
855 Monroe Avenue, Suite 515
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: (901) 448-1678
Fax: (901) 448-7193
Lab: 405 Wittenborg Anatomy Building
Email: Detlef Heck


Education

  • Ph.D. Institution: The University of Tübingen, Germany and Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen
  • Postdoctoral: Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen; Friedrich Miescher Laboratory of the Max-Planck Society, Tübingen; Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO

Research Interests

Structure and function of the cerebellar cortical network, cerebro-cerebellar interaction, neuronal mechanisms of motor control, dynamics of neuronal communication during behavior.

Many areas of the brain collaborate in a finely tuned manner in the control of behavior. The neocortex and the cerebellum are two key players in this concert. They are strongly connected via massive fiber bundles and have both grown equally in size during the course of vertebrate evolution. The network architectures of these two closely collaborating networks, however, are fundamentally different. For example, the neocortical network contains abundant excitatory feedback loops and the connectivity between neurons appears to be random. In contrast to this, the cerebellar cortical network has neurons and fibers arranged in a highly geometrical way. Excitatory and inhibitory fibers are nicely separated and run in orthogonal directions. There is no significant excitatory feedback. Cerebro-cerebellar communication occurs via intermediary nuclei. Output from the neocortex is relayed to the cerebellum via neurons in the pontine nuclei and cerebellar output reaches the neocortex via thalamus.

The essential structural differences between the neocortical and the cerebellar cortical network suggest that the two perform entirely different computations. I am interested in understanding what neuronal computations the cerebellum performs and how it exchanges information with the neocortex during the control of behavior. To address these questions I investigate neuronal communication within and between neocortex and cerebellum in two ways: 1) Multiple-electrode recording techniques including simultaneous recordings from neocortex and cerebellum during behavior are combined with behavioral analysis to link neuronal mechanisms to behavioral output, 2) Simultaneous multiple-electrode extra and intracellular recordings provide insights into the highly dynamic interaction between individual pairs of neurons and between single neurons and their surrounding network.

Representative Publications

  • Ashbrook DG, Roy S, Clifford BG, Riede T, Scattoni ML, Heck DH, Lu L, Williams RW. Born to Cry: A Genetic Dissection of Infant Vocalization. Front Behav Neurosci. 2018 Oct 29;12:250. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00250. eCollection 2018. PubMed PMID: 30420800; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6216097.
  • Miterko LN, Lackey EP, Heck DH, Sillitoe RV. Shaping Diversity Into the Brain's Form and Function. Front Neural Circuits. 2018 Oct 10;12:83. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2018.00083. eCollection 2018. Review. PubMed PMID: 30364100; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6191489.
  • Lackey EP, Heck DH, Sillitoe RV. Recent advances in understanding the mechanisms of cerebellar granule cell development and function and their contribution to behavior. F1000Res. 2018 Jul 26;7. pii: F1000 Faculty Rev-1142. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.15021.1. eCollection 2018. Review. PubMed PMID: 30109024; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6069759.
  • Varga S, Heck DH. Rhythms of the body, rhythms of the brain: Respiration, neural oscillations, and embodied cognition. Conscious Cogn. 2017 Nov;56:77-90. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2017.09.008. Review. PubMed PMID: 29073509.
  • Liu Y, McAfee SS, Guley NM, Del Mar N, Bu W, Heldt SA, Honig MG, Moore BM 2nd, Reiner A, Heck DH. Abnormalities in Dynamic Brain Activity Caused by Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Are Partially Rescued by the Cannabinoid Type-2 Receptor Inverse Agonist SMM-189. eNeuro. 2017 Aug 18;4(4). pii: ENEURO.0387-16.2017. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0387-16.2017. eCollection 2017 Jul-Aug. PubMed PMID: 28828401; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5562300.
  • Liu Y, McAfee SS, Heck DH. Hippocampal sharp-wave ripples in awake mice are entrained by respiration. Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 21;7(1):8950. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-09511-8. PubMed PMID: 28827599; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5566471.

View more references (pubmed link)

The Neuronal Codes of the Cerebellum, 1st Edition
Dr. Heck is the editor of the newly released The Neuronal Codes of the Cerebellum