The Rapid Visual Information Processing (RVIP) task, a serial discrimination task where task performance believed to reflect sustained attention capabilities, is widely used in behavioural research and increasingly in neuroimaging studies. To date, functional neuroimaging research into the RVIP has been undertaken using block analyses, reflecting the sustained processing involved in the task, but not necessarily the transient processes associated with individual trial performance. Furthermore, this research has been limited to young cohorts. This study assessed the behavioural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) outcomes of the RVIP task using both block and event-related analyses in a healthy middle aged cohort (mean age = 53.56 years, n = 16). The results show that the version of the RVIP used here is sensitive to changes in attentional demand processes with participants achieving a 43% accuracy hit rate in the experimental task compared with 96% accuracy in the control task. As shown by previous research, the block analysis revealed an increase in activation in a network of frontal, parietal, occipital and cerebellar regions. The event related analysis showed a similar network of activation, seemingly omitting regions involved in the processing of the task (as shown in the block analysis), such as occipital areas and the thalamus, providing an indication of a network of regions involved in correct trial performance. Frontal (superior and inferior frontal gryi), parietal (precuenus, inferior parietal lobe) and cerebellar regions were shown to be active in both the block and event-related analyses, suggesting their importance in sustained attention/vigilance. These networks and the differences between them are discussed in detail, as well as implications for future research in middle aged cohorts.