Elon Musk's Tweet Reveals Successful Implant Procedure: A Glimpse into Neuralink's Promising Future

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  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 01/29/2024
Elon Musk heralded a groundbreaking milestone in the realm of "brain-computer interface" technology when the first individual received a Neuralink brain implant. This remarkable achievement holds the promise of empowering individuals afflicted by debilitating conditions such as paralysis to effectively interact with their surroundings.

On Monday, Musk took to Twitter to share an encouraging update on the patient's progress after undergoing the implant procedure the previous day. His tweet implied that the operation went smoothly and without any notable technical complications, resulting in a positive outcome. Interestingly, Musk chose to withhold specific details about the patient. It is worth noting that Neuralink had previously announced its search for trial participants, specifically targeting individuals with quadriplegia, back in September of last year.

Elaborating on his findings, Musk expressed optimism regarding the "neuron spike identification" observed by the Neuralink gadget. This suggests that specific brain neurons are being detected, potentially unlocking a groundbreaking breakthrough in deciphering high-quality brain data. However, Musk did not disclose the exact number of neurons identified by the company's apparatus. Experts have pointed out that comprehensive safety and effectiveness data, necessary for evaluating the implant's performance, were not provided by the firm.

Neuralink faces competition from several other firms in the field of brain-computer interfaces. Synchron, for instance, has developed a stent-like device that is inserted above the patient's brain, positioned outside the actual brain tissue within the jugular vein. Meanwhile, Precision Neuroscience, another company, has temporarily implanted their device in six patients to gather test data before removing the microelectrode array. Their device, designed to rest atop the brain, boasts a thickness that is one-fifth that of a human hair. According to Blackrock Neurotech, several patients have had an earlier model of their gadget successfully implanted, enabling them to think to control robotic limbs, write emails, and eat.

Neuralink, established in 2016, recently secured a valuation of $3.5 billion in an equity funding round conducted in November, as per PitchBook. One of Neuralink's goals, as mentioned by Musk during an X event, is to develop a "Telepathy" product that enables users to control computers or smartphones using their thoughts alone. The company has even shared videos showcasing monkeys with implanted devices skillfully manipulating cursors and playing "Pong" video games.

An implanted chip in the size of a quarter is part of Neuralink's system. Numerous small, thread-like electrodes that are inserted into the brain to transmit electrical impulses from neurons are attached to it. How a transplanted brain will react to the injected threads over time is one unanswered issue. The tissue that surrounds them may develop, deteriorating the electric impulses they absorb.

Less than six months after the company announced that it was opening trial recruitment, Neuralink completed its first surgery. This shows not only that the company can move quickly, but also that there is a market for its product, according to Jacob Robinson, founder and CEO of Motif Neurotech, a company that is creating its own brain implant in the hopes that it will one day cure depression. He said that it "validates the interest and demand for neurotechnology."

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