In this short perspective, we reflect upon our tendency to use oversimplified and idiosyncratic tasks in a quest to discover general mechanisms of working memory. We discuss how the work of Mark Stokes and collaborators has looked beyond localized, temporally persistent neural activity and shifted focus toward the importance of distributed, dynamic neural codes for working memory. A critical lesson from this work is that using simplified tasks does not automatically simplify the neural computations supporting behavior (even if we wish it were so). Moreover, Stokes' insights about multidimensional dynamics highlight the flexibility of the neural codes underlying cognition and have pushed the field to look beyond static measures of working memory.

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