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Pain and fear are both aversive experiences that strongly impact on behaviour and well being. They are considered protective when they lead to meaningful, adaptive behaviour such as the avoidance of situations that are potentially dangerous to the integrity of tissue (pain) or the individual (fear). Pain and fear may, however, become maladaptive if expressed under inappropriate conditions or at excessive intensities for extended durations. Currently emerging concepts of maladaptive pain and fear suggest that basic neuronal mechanisms of memory formation are relevant for the development of pathological forms of pain and fear. Thus, the processes of erasing memory traces of pain and fear may constitute promising targets for future therapies.