First human receives brain-computer interface from Neuralink

First human receives brain-computer interface from Neuralink

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By Peter Clarke

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Elon Musk, the founder of automobile company Tesla, has announced his Neuralink company has inserted a brain-computer interface chip into a human patient for the first time.

“The first human received an implant from Neuralink yesterday and is recovering well. Initial results show promising neuron spike detection,” said Musk via his X social media channel. The name of the patient was not revealed.

This is the start of human clinical trials being conducted under the investigational device exemption (IDE) awarded by the FDA in May 2023. Musk also announced that the Neuralink product that it is hoped will come to market after these trials is Telepathy.

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) that can drive the movement of computer cursors – and thereby just about anything – on the basis of brain waves have existed for many years. However, there  were external to the body and required a tight-fitting cap loaded with sensors to detect the electromagnetic signals. Now Neuralink is conducting a medical trial for a fully implantable wireless BCI.

Robot surgery

As part of the study Neuralink’s R1 robot was used to surgically place the N1 implant’s ultra-fine and flexible threads in a region of the brain that controls movement intention. The N1 implant then records and transmits brain signals wirelessly to an app that decodes movement intention.

The trails have been opened to individuals who have quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 

Musk added: “Enables control of your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking. Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs. Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal.”

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