NewsElon Musk's neuralink leap: Paralyzed man plays games with mind

Elon Musk's neuralink leap: Paralyzed man plays games with mind

implant implanted into the brain
implant implanted into the brain
Images source: © Pixabay

9:03 AM EDT, May 10, 2024

Neuralink, led by Elon Musk, recently shared outcomes from the initial tests of its brain implant, which showed promise but faced several challenges.

In March 2024, Musk announced that Neuralink had successfully implanted its first brain device in 29-year-old Noland Arbaugh, who had become paralyzed following a diving accident. This technology allows Arbaugh to move a cursor and play "Civilization VI" using his thoughts, supporting intensive gameplay for hours. Nonetheless, it's important to note that the device requires recharging every eight hours. Musk has stated that future Neuralink implants could enable individuals with spinal cord injuries to walk again.

What issues arose with the performance of the N1 implants?

The study initially indicated promising results, but it wasn't long before issues emerged. The N1 implant, designed to facilitate a brain-computer interface for device control through thought alone, faced problems due to its ultra-thin electrodes after being implanted in Noland Arbaugh.

According to IFLScience, several electrodes detached from the brain a few weeks post-procedure, leading to a reduced number of functional electrodes. Consequently, Arbaugh's ability to control the computer cursor with his thoughts suffered, diminishing speed and accuracy. Nevertheless, Neuralink adapted its algorithms for recording and processing neural signals, resulting in "rapid and lasting improvement" that surpassed Arbaugh's initial capabilities.

Neuralink's progress under the shadow of an FDA investigation

In March, Neuralink's operations, including the performance of the N1 implant, were showcased in a live broadcast on the social platform X, where Arbaugh, paralyzed from the shoulders down, demonstrated playing chess by controlling the cursor. He described this breakthrough as a way to undertake tasks he believed were impossible since his accident. Musk equated this capability to telepathy.

However, the company's achievements might be overshadowed by controversies, particularly concerning animal research, which led to an FDA-approved human trial. This aspect of Neuralink's work has triggered a federal investigation, uncovering numerous issues. Despite these challenges, Neuralink remains committed to transforming how the brain interacts with computers.

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