The first human Neuralink brain chip receiver controls the computer mouse by thinking, Musk claims

The first human recipient of Neuralink’s controversial brain implant has reportedly reached another milestone by successfully controlling a computer mouse cursor using only their thoughts.

According to Reuters, Neuralink founder Elon Musk provided an update on the test subject’s progress on February 19 through Spaces, a service that facilitates audio conversations via social media platform X (formerly Twitter), purchased by Musk in 2022.

“Progress is good and the patient appears to have made a full recovery, with neural effects that we are aware of. The patient can move a mouse across the screen just by thinking,” Musk said.

The update comes less than a month after it was announced that the first human had received a Neuralink implant.

Through the Precise Robotically IMplanted Brain-Computer InterfacE (PRIME) study, Neuralink aims to test an implantable, wireless brain-computer interface (BCI) that would allow users with paralysis to control devices using only their thoughts.

BCIs themselves are not a new idea. Notably, startup Synchron sent Neuralink into the post in 2021 when it received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to test a similar device that sidesteps the tricky issue of complex brain surgery by inserting into a blood vessel instead are inserted in a minimally invasive procedure.

After the initial application was rejected by the agency, Neuralink received FDA approval for the PRIME study in May 2023; although, as Nature reports, the research does not appear to have been registered in the National Institutes of Health’s online repository, which is often a requirement imposed by medical journals before the research results can be published.

While other BCI approaches exist, Neuralink stands out as being the first wireless model to record input from individual neurons, something many experts agree is necessary to achieve more advanced features. By eliminating the need to connect the implant to an external computer, it eliminates a potential source of infection and allows users to continue their daily activities without having to be tethered to a device.

Should these trials prove successful – and with only one implanted chip confirmed so far, we are still in the very early stages of this process – it would have the potential to revolutionize the lives of paralysis patients, making it easier for them to communicate. and to achieve greater independence.

But there’s no denying that Neuralink’s research is shrouded in skepticism and controversy. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that photographs from the University of California at Davis revealed that early animal testing of brain implants caused unnecessary suffering. Reuters later reported that a federal investigation into possible animal welfare violations had been launched.

The PCRM later made allegations that potentially dangerous material from Neuralink’s monkey experiments had been shipped in an unsafe manner, claims that led to a second federal investigation.

In light of the progress apparently being made in human research, other scientists in the field, as well as groups representing patients who could benefit from this technology, have expressed frustration with a perceived lack of transparency.

As neuroengineer Tim Denison of the University of Oxford told Nature, without the process even registered in the public repository, there isn’t much that can be done. “My assumption would be that the FDA and Neuralink are following the playbook to some extent,” Denison said. ‘But we don’t have the protocol. So we don’t know that.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *