Maintenance of information in working memory (WM) is assumed to rely on refreshing and elaboration, but clear mechanistic descriptions of these cognitive processes are lacking, and it is unclear whether they are simply two labels for the same process. This fMRI study investigated the extent to which refreshing, elaboration, and repeating of items in WM are distinct neural processes with dissociable behavioral outcomes in WM and long-term memory (LTM). Multivariate pattern analyses of fMRI data revealed differentiable neural signatures for these processes, which we also replicated in an independent sample of older adults. In some cases, the degree of neural separation within an individual predicted their memory performance. Elaboration improved LTM, but not WM, and this benefit increased as its neural signature became more distinct from repetition. Refreshing had no impact on LTM, but did improve WM, although the neural discrimination of this process was not predictive of the degree of improvement. These results demonstrate that refreshing and elaboration are separate processes that differently contribute to memory performance.