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Building a Brain
15 July 2015

Building a Brain

The human brain still harbours many mysteries, and unravelling the workings of this intricate organ is a major scientific challenge. One means of tackling the problem is to build artificial systems, based on neural tissues, to help model the brain’s responses to different stresses. Shown is a recent example, based on a scaffold of collagen and silk (in blue), onto which rat neurons (in orange) are attached, grow, and connect to each other. Dropping weights onto this structure, to mimic a blow to the skull, demonstrated that this bioengineered brain responds in a similar way to that of injured human patients; this suggests that it could be a useful system for studying the effects of traumatic brain injury. Increasing the complexity of the model, by adding different types of brain cells, will help develop ever-better tools in which to investigate the behaviour of our most intriguing organ.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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