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First Human to Implant Elon Musk’s Neuralink ‘brain chip’

Elon Musk announced on X formerly known Twitter on January 30, 2024 that for the first time, his company Neuralink has implanted a brain chip in a human and “is recovering well. initial results show promising neuron spike detection”. Telepathy is the name of Neuralink product.

Neuralink’s goal is to help paralyzed people use the chip in their brain to interpret their neural activity to enable them to operate a computer or smartphone by only thinking, mentioned according to a Neuralink video posted on its X account on November 2023. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Neuralink for human clinical trial last May after years of testing on animals according to an article published by Reuters on May 27, 2023. Neuralink demonstrated the ability of its implants to stimulate movement in a monkey’s brain to enable it to play a video game by only thinking.

Elon Musk tweeted on X on January 30, 2024 “Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs. Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal.” 

Neuralink engineers are not the only ones who are working on using technology to help people who are paralyzed. Several rival companies have implanted what are known as brain-computer interface systems in humans according to an article published by BBC on January 30, 2024.

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne(EPFL), Switzerland researchers helped  Gert-Jan Oskam a man, who is 40 years old; was paralyzed from the hips down due to an accident in a motorcycle, after implants in his brain and spine he was able to walk again according to an article published by The New York Times on May 24, 2023. 

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) researchers in 2023 helped Ann a woman, 47 years old who had a brainstem stroke 18 years ago and had lost her voice to paralysis but was able to have a conversation with her husband with the help of a mind-controlled avatar according to an article published by ABC News on January 30, 2024.

Nathan Copeland paralyzed man who in 2016 fist-bumped former President of the US Barack Obama with a robotic arm powered by tiny chips implanted in his brain enabling him to use his mind-controlled robotic arm and restore his sense of touch. The technology was developed by The University of Pittsburgh (PITT) researchers according to an article published by CBS News on October 15, 2016.

People paralyzed due to neurodegenerative disease that slowly erodes their ability to move from stroke, traumatic brain injury, and a spinal cord injury could see the benefits. Neuralink is a medical device and it is in the safety assessment stages and might take years before being available to be used medically.

Neuralink was co-founded in 2016 and it is backed by more than 30 investors including PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel according to an article published by NBC News on January 30, 2024.

Edited by: Megha Siddapura Manjunatha

Image: BBC News


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