Ruth Carper is associate director of the Brain Development Imaging Laboratories (BDIL) at San Diego State University and associate research professor in the Department of Psychology. She received her doctorate in neurosciences from the University of California, San Diego.
Carper’s research focuses on the brain bases and long-term phenomenology of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Through her ongoing collaborations within the BDIL, her current work incorporates nearly the entire lifespan in ASD, from toddlerhood to aging. She uses structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffusion-weighted imaging and other MRI methods to study the neuroanatomy of ASD, how brain structure changes throughout the lifespan and how these structural differences help to explain differences in cognition and function. Her work with multi-shell diffusion imaging has suggested differences in neurite density within cortical gray matter in children and adolescents with ASD, and she plans to incorporate some of these methods as part of her SFARI-funded project. Carper also has a strong interest in how adults with ASD fare as they age. She has been assessing 30- to 65-year-olds with ASD to study differences in brain structure and function using MRI, how measures associate with cognitive and behavioral abilities, daily living skills, physical health and support needs. She hopes to identify factors that predict long-term success longitudinally.