The Institute on Mental Retardation and Intellectual Development (IMRID) was the Kennedy Center's keystone institute for research on behavioral and biobehavioral aspects of intellectual disabilities and intellectual development. IMRID’s early purpose was to conduct a broad program of research, but its major emphasis was on mild intellectual disabilities associated with socioeconomic deprivation. Later, IMRID's research program was directed broadly at learning and its facilitation.
IMRID’s ultimate objective was to understand the nature of learning disabilities associated with intellectual disabilities and then to identify and to develop strategies for enhancing the learning and adaptive behavior of persons with intellectual disabilities. A related goal was to contribute to theories and knowledge concerning individual differences in learning, information processing, and human development.
Much of IMRID's research between 1964 and 1973 focused on the behavior and development of persons with mild and moderate intellectual disability. From 1973 to its conclusion in 1995, research concerned a broader range of disabilities, including severe and profound mental retardation, and research was carried out in a wider variety of settings. Throughout the evolution of IMRID's research program there was the conviction that learning and its cognitive developmental precursors constitute the major problems in intellectual disability that might yield to a behavioral research attack. Consistent emphases on learning and cognitive development and on family and environmental variables were reflected in IMRID's research programs.
Professor H. Carl Haywood investigated concept formation in persons with intellectual disabilities, typical development, or brain injuries, using neuropsychological tests. These studies revealed unsuspected potential for improvement in thinking processes in these three groups.