We trained three groups of rats, young (Y; 3 months at the start of study), middle aged (MA; 15 months), and aged (AG; 22 months), in the serial five-choice serial reaction time task, a test of attention. There were clear age-related differences in task acquisition Y acquired the task quicker than MA rats, which learned faster than AG rats. A subgroup of AG rats [AG(I)] could not reach criterion (> 80% correct, < 20% omissions under standard conditions of 0.5 sec stimulus duration, 5 sec limited hold). Accordingly, they were tested under conditions of 1 sec stimulus duration. Having acquired the task, under standard conditions both MA and AG groups were slower to make a correct response but not to collect the food reward. Furthermore, parameter changes, particularly reductions in stimulus duration and intensity, revealed further age-related changes in accuracy. Following completion of these studies, animals were trained in a simpler one-choice task. Importantly, reducing stimulus duration/intensity in this task revealed no differences between Y and MA/AG groups, although AG(I) rats were impaired. This dissociation between MA/AG impairments in the one- and five-choice task suggests that these animals may show attentional deficits compared with Y rats, which are independent of changes in sensory (visual), motor function, or motivation. Finally, the MA deficit in attention was partially reversed by tacrine pretreatment (3 mg/kg). Also scopolamine (0.01–0.075 mg/kg) and mecamylamine (0.3–5 mg/kg) pretreatment impaired choice accuracy of MA but not Y rats. Taken together, the drug studies imply that the attentional deficits may at least be partially due to changes in cholinergic function.