Simple perceptual tasks have laid the groundwork for understanding the neurobiology of decision-making. Here, we examined this foundation to explain how decision-making circuitry adjusts in the face of a more difficult task. We measured behavioral and physiological responses of monkeys on a two- and four-choice direction-discrimination decision task. For both tasks, firing rates in the lateral intraparietal area appeared to reflect the accumulation of evidence for or against each choice. Evidence accumulation began at a lower firing rate for the four-choice task, but reached a common level by the end of the decision process. The larger excursion suggests that the subjects required more evidence before making a choice. Furthermore, on both tasks, we observed a time-dependent rise in firing rates that may impose a deadline for deciding. These physiological observations constitute an effective strategy for handling increased task difficulty. The differences appear to explain subjects' accuracy and reaction times.
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