Working memory (WM) enables the storage and manipulation of information in an active state. WM storage has long been associated with sustained increases in activation across a network of frontal and parietal cortical regions. However, recent evidence suggests that these regions primarily encode information related to general task goals rather than feature-selective representations of specific memoranda. These goal-related representations are thought to provide top-down feedback that coordinates the representation of fine-grained details in early sensory areas. Here, we test this model using fMRI-based reconstructions of remembered visual details from region-level activation patterns. We could reconstruct high-fidelity representations of a remembered orientation based on activation patterns in occipital visual cortex and in several sub-regions of frontal and parietal cortex, independent of sustained increases in mean activation. These results challenge models of WM that postulate disjoint frontoparietal "top-down control" and posterior sensory "feature storage" networks.
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