The brain is highly efficient in how it processes information and tolerates faults. Arguably, the basic processing units are neurons and synapses that are interconnected in a complex pattern. Computer scientists and engineers aim to harness this efficiency and build artificial neural systems that can emulate the key information processing principles of the brain. However, existing approaches cannot provide the dense interconnect for the billions of neurons and synapses that are required. Recently a reconfigurable and biologically inspired paradigm based on network-on-chip (NoC) and spiking neural networks (SNNs) has been proposed as a new method of realising an efficient, robust computing platform. However, the use of the NoC as an interconnection fabric for large-scale SNNs demands a good trade-off between scalability, throughput, neuron/synapse ratio and power consumption. This paper presents a novel traffic-aware, adaptive NoC router, which forms part of a proposed embedded mixed-signal SNN architecture called EMBRACE (EMulating Biologically-inspiRed ArChitectures in hardwarE). The proposed adaptive NoC router provides the inter-neuron connectivity for EMBRACE, maintaining router communication and avoiding dropped router packets by adapting to router traffic congestion. Results are presented on throughput, power and area performance analysis of the adaptive router using a 90 nm CMOS technology which outperforms existing NoCs in this domain. The adaptive behaviour of the router is also verified on a Stratix II FPGA implementation of a 4 × 2 router array with real-time traffic congestion. The presented results demonstrate the feasibility of using the proposed adaptive NoC router within the EMBRACE architecture to realise large-scale SNNs on embedded hardware.