Utilization Behavior

Utilization Behavior

Utilization behavior is a disturbed response to external stimuli, a component of the environmental dependency syndrome, in which seeing an object implies that it should be used. Two forms of utilization behavior are described:

  1. Induced:

when an item is given to the patient or their attention is directed to it, e.g., handing them a pair of spectacles which they put on, followed by a second pair, which are put on over the first pair.

  1. Incidental or Spontaneous:

when the patient uses an object in their environment without their attention being specifically directed toward it.
Another element of the environmental dependency syndrome which coexists with utilization behavior is imitation behavior (e.g., echolalia, echopraxia). Primitive reflexes and hypermetamorphosis may also be observed.
Utilization behavior is associated with lesions of the frontal lobe, affecting the inferior medial area bilaterally. It has also been reported following paramedian thalamic infarction.



De Renzi E, Cavalleri F, Facchini S. Imitation and utilization behavior. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 1996; 61: 396-400 Lhermitte F, Pillon B, Serdaru M. Human autonomy and the frontal lobes. Part I: imitation and utilization behavior: a neuropsychological study of 75 patients. Annals of Neurology 1986; 19: 326-334
Schott JM, Rossor MN. The grasp and other primitive reflexes. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 2003; 74: 558-560 Shallice T, Burgess PW, Schon F, Baxter DM. The origins of utilization behavior. Brain 1989;112: 1587-1598


Cross References

Automatic writing behavior; Echolalia;Echopraxia; Frontal lobe syndromes; Hypermetamorphosis; Imitation behavior; Primitive reflexes