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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 529057, 11 pages
Research Article

Neural Correlates of Changes in a Visual Search Task due to Cognitive Training in Seniors

1Hochschule Rhein-Waal, University of Applied Science, Südstr. 8, 47475 Kamp-Lintfort, Germany
2Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors (IfADo), Ardeystr. 67, 44139 Dortmund, Germany

Received 1 March 2012; Accepted 13 August 2012

Academic Editor: Kristy A. Nielson

Copyright © 2012 Nele Wild-Wall et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study aimed to elucidate the underlying neural sources of near transfer after a multidomain cognitive training in older participants in a visual search task. Participants were randomly assigned to a social control, a no-contact control and a training group, receiving a 4-month paper-pencil and PC-based trainer guided cognitive intervention. All participants were tested in a before and after session with a conjunction visual search task. Performance and event-related potentials (ERPs) suggest that the cognitive training improved feature processing of the stimuli which was expressed in an increased rate of target detection compared to the control groups. This was paralleled by enhanced amplitudes of the frontal P2 in the ERP and by higher activation in lingual and parahippocampal brain areas which are discussed to support visual feature processing. Enhanced N1 and N2 potentials in the ERP for nontarget stimuli after cognitive training additionally suggest improved attention and subsequent processing of arrays which were not immediately recognized as targets. Possible test repetition effects were confined to processes of stimulus categorisation as suggested by the P3b potential. The results show neurocognitive plasticity in aging after a broad cognitive training and allow pinpointing the functional loci of effects induced by cognitive training.