Tufts researchers have created a new, modular design of bioengineered brain-like tissue. On injury, this brain-like tissue responds with biochemical and electrophysiological outcomes that mimic observations in vivo. This model offers new directions for studies of brain function, disease and injury. Each module combined two materials with different properties: a stiffer porous scaffold made of silk protein on which cortical neurons, derived from rats, could anchor and a softer collagen gel matrix that allowed axons (projections from the neuron that conduct impulses away from the nerve body) to penetrate and connect three dimensionally. The silk scaffolds were assembled into concentric rings --as shown here -- to simulate the layers of the neocortex. Each layer was dyed with food color and seeded with neurons independently.