The hypothesis that fear memory is not necessarily permanent but can change when retrieved opens avenues to develop revolutionary treatments for emotional memory disorders. Memory reconsolidation is however only one of several mnemonic processes that may be triggered by memory reactivation and subtle environmental differences may cause a transition from a malleable to a stable state. This poses a major challenge to translating the reconsolidation intervention to clinical practice. Here we review recent advances in understanding the transitions between memory processes in animals and humans, and discuss how the cognitive expression (i.e. threat expectancies) of fear memory in humans may serve as read-out to delineate the underlying processes necessary for memory reconsolidation, independent from the emotional expression of fear memory.