A traditional view of short-term working memory (STM) is that task-relevant information is maintained 'online' in persistent spiking activity. However, recent experimental and modeling studies have begun to question this long-held belief. In this review, we discuss new evidence demonstrating that information can be 'silently' maintained via short-term synaptic plasticity (STSP) without the need for persistent activity. We discuss how the neural mechanisms underlying STM are inextricably linked with the cognitive demands of the task, such that the passive maintenance and the active manipulation of information are subserved differently in the brain. Together, these recent findings point towards a more nuanced view of STM in which multiple substrates work in concert to support our ability to temporarily maintain and manipulate information.