Neuralink, a neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk and seven scientists and engineers, has installed a brain implant in its first human recipient with “promising initial results, the billionaire announced on Tuesday.
“The first human received an implant from @Neuralink yesterday and is recovering well. Initial results show promising neuron spike detection,” Musk wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
According to Musk, the first product from Neuralink will be called ‘Telepathy’.
The start-up, launched in 2016, opened a recruitment process seeking participants for its first brain implant trial on humans last year after receiving approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. People with quadriplegia due to a cervical spinal cord injury and those with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) were eligible for the study.
In a statement on its website last year, the firm had noted that the study was named ‘PRIME’ – Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface. The exercise is a “groundbreaking investigational medical device trial for our fully implantable, wireless brain-computer interface (BCI),” it said.
The neurotechnology company aims to build direct communication channels between the brain and computers. It evaluates the safety of Neuralink’s N1 implant and R1 surgical robot, and assesses the initial functionality of the BCI to enable people with paralysis to use their thoughts to control external devices.
Notably, Neuralink’s technology mainly works through an implant called ‘Link’ – a device placed inside the human brain through invasive surgery.
What happens during the study?
During the study, the R1 Robot is used to surgically place the N1 Implant’s ultra-fine and flexible threads in a region of the brain that controls movement intention. “Once in place, the N1 Implant is cosmetically invisible and is intended to record and transmit brain signals wirelessly to an app that decodes movement intention. The initial goal of our BCI is to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone,” the company wrote in its blog post.
(With inputs from agencies)