With the advent of tools for recording and manipulating activity with high spatiotemporal resolution in defined neural circuits in behaving animals, behavioral neuroscience is now tasked with establishing field-wide standards for implementing and interpreting these powerful approaches. Importantly, similar assays are often used to support widely disparate conclusions which in part has contributed to a slew of studies claiming highly specified functions for cell types and circuits which are often in direct disagreement with one another. In this opinion piece, Alan S. Lewis and colleagues discuss common pitfalls in design and interpretation of approaches for recording or manipulating neural activity in animal models of motivated behavior. The authors emphasize the importance of integrating findings across multiple behavioral assays concomitant with tempered inference regarding specialized neuronal functions as a standardized starting point for parsing circuit control of behavior. The authors aim to stimulate an open and accessible discourse in the literature to address issues of continuity across behavioral neurosciences.