Rowe Alumni Spotlight: Sharon Cherian

Sharon Cherian at her White Coat Ceremony.

UConn Year of Graduation (Undergraduate): 2018
Undergraduate Major(s): Cognitive Science
Currently Employed By:
Updates: After graduating from UConn in 2018, I moved to West Virginia and started medical school at WVSOM. I am currently in my second year here and life has changed quite a bit. I went from being super involved with clubs and extracurricular activities in undergrad, and now most of my time is spent studying. Academics can be tough but I love learning clinical skills and applying what we are learning to real life situations. I am involved with a few organizations at my school, including being VP of the National Osteopathic Women Physicians Association (NOWPA). Other than that, nothing else is new, besides the fact that most of this year will be me preparing for my national board exams in May/June. If anyone wants to learn more about osteopathic medicine or applying to DO schools I am happy to help!

Rowe Researcher: Rat Models and Human Hearing

Rat Models and Human Hearing: The Categorical Perception of Species-Specific Rate Vocalization

Spring 2018

Principle Investigator: Heather Read

Contributors: Sharon Cherian, Caitlyn Cody, Mackenzie Zapata, Timothy Nolan, Peter Satonick

Several studies have shown that humans and rats are able to differentiate timing cues in sound sequences. The importance of timing cues for speech and word recognition in normal hearing of adults has been recognized by Shannon (1995) and Souza (2015) who outlined the significance of timing cues for speech recognition among the aging human population, that commonly encounter tone frequency hearing loss. Rats are able to communicate and recognize non-speech vocalizations, as do humans.

We will use the two-alternative forced choice (2AFC) task to train rats to discriminate vocalizations (Gaese et al., 2006; Zarillow and Zador, 2014).  The rats will be placed in a sound proof training booth that have nose poke ports on the inside. In the first stage (early stage) of the task, the rats will be receiving a “direct reward” for learning to associate one vocalization with sound delivery with a reward from a port located on the right, and another with sound delivery and reward from a port on the left. First rats are trained incrementally to hold in the Central Nose Port for 150-600 milliseconds to initiate their trial. After holding and hearing the sound play for this duration, the rat needs to navigate to the correct port to receive their reward. The reward is in the form of strawberry or chocolate Ensure protein solution. Once the performance criterion reaches 70-100% for discriminating, the rats will be switched to the “Indirect” phase for the 2AFC paradigm. The sounds in this stage will all be delivered from a central speaker, removing the location cue indicating where the reward might be. Once the rats reach 70-100% correct for the “indirect phase,” they can now be tested in the 2AFC task for discrimination of sound sequences that vary in: timing cues only or timing plus tonal cues combined together.

My research project is essential to understanding more about the auditory system through the examination of interactions between tonal and timing perceptual cues. The results from this research project will allow us to have a more in-depth understanding about not only the auditory system, but how humans perceive specific vocalization sequences and discrimination abilities. Using these results, this will be able to provide valuable insight about human hearing and aging. Hearing aids are widely used by the elderly population, so the results will allow us to optimize hearing aids, as humans do rely heavily on temporal cues to speech. Thus, these results will not only add more to our general understanding about the auditory system, but also allow for improvement for hearing aid devices and other related advancements in clinical settings.


2014 Rowe Scholar: Sharon Cherian

Sharon Cherian
Sharon Cherian (Freshman)

Sharon Cherian has been doing Indian classical dance since she was six years old and plans to continue dancing at UConn. While here she’ll also be majoring in chemistry and perhaps psychology while following a pre-med track of study to prepare for medical school and a future as a doctor. A resident of West Hartford, CT, Sharon graduated from Conard High School and volunteered for three years at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. While at St. Francis, Sharon assisted nurses and patients in the OBGYN/post-delivery unit. She enjoyed working with the people and feels that she learned a lot about the obstetrics and gynecology field.