Media neuroscience has emerged as a new area of study at the intersection of media psychology and cognitive neuroscience. In previous work, we have addressed this trend from a methodological perspective. In this paper, we outline the progression of scholarship in systematic investigations of mass communication phenomena over the past century, from behaviorism and environmental determinism to biological and evolutionary paradigms. These new paradigms are grounded in an emergentist perspective on the nature of psychological processes. We discuss what it means to ask valid research questions in media neuroscience studies and provide recent examples in the areas of interpersonal and intergroup processes, morality, and narratives as well as in persuasion and health communication. We conclude with a selection of innovative methodological avenues that have the potential to accelerate the integration of cognitive neuroscience into media psychology research.