Neuralink Could Start The First Human Trials Later This Year

Evelyn Arevalo by Evelyn Arevalo February 08, 2021

Neuralink Could Start The First Human Trials Later This Year

Neuralink, the neuro-technology company founded by Elon Musk, is developing a coin-sized brain chip device that aims to treat individuals with brain and spine illnesses. The company’s initial goal is to help individuals with paralysis have control over computerized devices via their thoughts. “I think it's important for us to address brain-related diseases," Musk said in 2019, "Whether it's an accident or congenital or any kind of brain-related disorder or a spinal disorder, if you know somebody who's broken their neck or broken their spine, we can solve that with a chip, and this is something that I think most people don't quite understand yet. […] At a kind of advanced long-term level...if two people had a Neural-Link, you'd be able to effectively have a sort of really high-bandwidth telepathy” over radio waves, he said. The implant device is called ‘Link’, it is a small round chip that features 1,024 thin electrode threads that are designed to stimulate neurons inside the brain. Each thread would be inserted with a surgical robot to avoid human error, “Micron-scale threads are inserted into areas of the brain that control movement. Each thread contains many electrodes and connects them to an implant, the Link,” Neuralink explains. 

Image Source: Neuralink 

The Neuralink implant is “designed to give people the ability to communicate more easily via text or speech synthesis, to follow their curiosity on the web, or to express their creativity through photography, art, or writing apps,” according to the company’s website. Long-term, Musk’s engineering and medical teams aim to create a device that would improve the human condition in a variety of ways. “This technology has the potential to treat a wide range of neurological disorders, to restore sensory and movement function, and eventually to expand how we interact with each other, with the world, and with ourselves,” the company states.

The neuro-tech venture has not tested the device on humans yet, only on animals. Musk shared Neuralink could start the first human trial later this year during a recent conversation with a Twitter user. Hamoon Kamai, asked Musk: “Hi Elon Musk, I've been thinking for a long time how to write this to you - but I'll keep it very simply: I was in a car accident 20 years ago and have been paralyzed from the shoulders ever since. I'm always available for clinical studies at Neuralink. Please get in touch!,” he wrote via Twitter. –“Neuralink is working super hard to ensure implant safety & is in close communication with the FDA [U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration],” Musk replied, “If things go well, we might be able to do initial human trials later this year.”  

Musk envisions a future where the Link brain chip is accessible to the general public for recreational use. The user would download the Neuralink App on their mobile phone that would allow them to have “control” over an “iOS device, keyboard and mouse directly with the activity of your brain, just by thinking about it.” In 2020 Neuralink demonstrated a working Link chip that was implanted inside a pig’s brain. Musk shared Neuralink is also testing the Link implant in a monkey’s brain during a Clubhouse discussion on January 31. “We have a monkey with a wireless implant in their skull with tiny wires who can play video games with his mind,” Musk said. “You can’t see where the implant is and he’s a happy monkey. We have the nicest monkey facilities in the world."

"We want them to play mind-Pong with each other...that would be pretty cool,” he said.

Featured Image Source: Pixabay 





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