Elon Musk’s Startup Implants First Human Brain Chip. Here’s How It Works

In a post on X, Musk clarified how the implant establishes a connection between the brain and any electronic device.

Elon Musk's Startup Implants First Human Brain Chip. Here's How It Works

Made of “ultra-fine” threads, the implants have the capability to transmit signals from the brain. On Tuesday, Elon Musk revealed that Neuralink, his company, has successfully implanted the first brain chip in a human patient. Musk expressed optimism about the initial results, stating that the product is named after the ability for mental communication or telepathy.

“Initial results show promising neuron spike detection,” Musk mentioned in a post on X, referring to the brain’s capacity to send signals to the body.

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The startup, which obtained approval from the US health regulatory body to conduct the inaugural human trial of its implant last year, intends to utilize it to assist patients dealing with paralysis.

How does it work?

In a post on X, Musk elucidated how the implant establishes a connection between the brain and any electronic device, highlighting its potential utility for individuals with physical disabilities.

“It 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,” he explained.

The implants, composed of “ultra-fine” threads, can transmit signals from the brain, connecting them to commands on an electronic device, as stated by Neuralink.

The Neuralink device is a brain implant equipped with 1,024 electrodes designed to capture signals from a multitude of neurons. The number of electrodes plays a crucial role, as it determines the extent of neurons that can be monitored, directly impacting the amount of data collected. Additionally, the proximity to the neurons is a key factor in data quality—the closer the electrodes are to the neurons, the higher the quality of the obtained data. This emphasis on electrode count and proximity underscores the device’s capability to provide comprehensive and high-fidelity insights into neural activity.

How will it be used?

According to their website, the company’s mission is to develop a “generalized brain interface to restore autonomy to those with unmet medical needs.”

The investigative trial, known as PRIME (Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface), will involve quadriplegic patients, individuals with spinal cord injuries, and even those afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Is it safe?

Musk’s ambitious effort to bring telepathy into reality has come under scrutiny, with the company facing fines this month for violating trial safety protocols.

The $5-billion company has also been accused of misleading investors regarding the safety of the technology, as animal testing results revealed instances of paralysis, seizures, and brain swelling among the study’s subjects.

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