Neuralink will start human brain implant trials. Elon Musk co-founded the BCI* company in 2016. Neuralink intends to allow paralysed individuals to control computers and devices with their thoughts.
This significant milestone follows Neuralink’s acquisition of approval for human clinical trials from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this year. This decision stirred considerable debate within scientific and regulatory circles.
Neuralink’s human trials involve robotic assistance to implant their BCI device, affectionately known as ‘the Link.’ This implant has the potential to grant participants the extraordinary capability of controlling computer cursors or typing text through their thoughts alone, offering newfound hope to individuals living with paralysis.
At the heart of these trials is a sophisticated robot that precisely places 64 ultra-thin threads, each finer than a human hair, into a specific brain region responsible for ‘movement intention.’ These threads play a pivotal role in the functioning of Neuralink’s experimental N1 implant, which operates on a wireless rechargeable battery. The implant records brain signals and wirelessly transmits them to an app, where the user’s intended movements are interpreted.
To be eligible for the trials, participants must be individuals with quadriplegia resulting from injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Neuralink is not alone in the BCI race; it faces competition from longstanding players. For instance, Blackrock Neurotech, based in Utah, performed its first BCIs in 2004. Another contender, Precision Neuroscience, founded by a co-founder of Neuralink, offers a unique implant resembling a thin piece of tape that sits on the brain’s surface. This implant can be inserted through a less invasive ‘cranial micro-slit’ procedure.
While the BCI landscape boasts several promising players, existing devices have already demonstrated their potential in advancing the field and improving the lives of individuals with paralysis.
Picture: X / PopBase
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