The impact of attentional training on event-related potentials in older adults

Neurobiol Aging. 2016 Nov:47:10-22. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2016.06.023. Epub 2016 Jul 6.


Attentional control declines in older adults and is paralleled by changes in event-related brain potentials (ERPs). The N200 is associated with attentional control, thus training-related improvements in attentional control should be paralleled by enhancements to the N200. Older participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups, which focused on training different levels of attentional control: (1) single-task training (single), where participants trained on 2 tasks in isolation; (2) fixed divided attention training (fixed), where participants trained on 2 tasks simultaneously; and (3) variable divided attention training (variable), where participants trained on 2 tasks simultaneously but were instructed to alternatively prioritize each of the 2 tasks. After training, the amplitude of the N200 wave increased in dual-task conditions for the variable group, and this enhancement was correlated with improved dual-task performance. Participants in the variable group also had the greatest improvement in the ability to modulate their allocation of attention in accordance with task instructions to the less salient and less complex of the 2 tasks. Training older adults to modulate their division of attention between tasks improves neural functions associated with attentional control of the trained tasks.

Keywords: Aging; Attention; Attentional control; Event-related potentials; N200; Training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged