Neurocognitive effects of multivitamin supplementation on the steady state visually evoked potential (SSVEP) measure of brain activity in elderly women

Physiol Behav. 2012 Oct 10;107(3):346-54. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.08.006. Epub 2012 Aug 23.


Objective: Growing evidence suggests that dietary supplementation with selected micronutrients and nutraceuticals may have the potential to improve cognition in older adults. Fewer studies have investigated the effects of these substances on brain activity.

Methods: This study was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, conducted to explore the effects of 16 weeks supplementation with a combined multivitamin, mineral and herbal formula on the steady state visually evoked potential (SSVEP) measure of brain electrical activity. Participants were elderly women aged between 64 and 79 years, with subjective memory complaints. Baseline and post-treatment SSVEP data was obtained for 22 participants in the multivitamin group and 19 in the placebo group. A spatial working memory delayed response task (DRT) was performed during the recording of the SSVEP.

Results: The results revealed that when compared to placebo, multivitamin supplementation delayed SSVEP latency during retrieval, interpreted as an increase in inhibitory neural processes. Behavioural performance on the DRT was not improved by the multivitamin, however improved performance accuracy was associated with increased midline central SSVEP latency. There were no multivitamin-related effects on SSVEP amplitude.

Conclusion: These findings indicate that in the elderly, multivitamin supplementation may enhance neural efficiency during memory retrieval.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*


  • Vitamins