Neuralink, the neuro-technology company founded by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to commence their inaugural human brain implant trials in May this year. The company announced on September 19 that the first-in-human clinical trial is open for recruitment, interested qualifying individuals can apply at their official Neuralink.com website. The trial, named the PRIME Study (Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface), aims to evaluate the safety and functionality of Neuralink's fully-implantable, wireless BCI. This innovative medical device is designed to enable individuals with paralysis, specifically those with quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), to control external devices using their thoughts alone.
The procedure involves the use of the R1 Robot to surgically place the Link N1 Implant's ultra-fine and flexible threads in a region of the brain responsible for movement intention. Once implanted, the N1 Implant becomes cosmetically invisible and transmits brain signals wirelessly to an app, which decodes these signals, potentially allowing users to control a computer cursor or keyboard through their thoughts.
Neuralink is looking to find individuals who: Have quadriplegia (limited function in all 4 limbs) due to spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and are at least 1-year post-injury (without improvement). Are at least 22 years old and have a consistent and reliable caregiver. According to the Neuralink brochure, once the chip is implanted "the study will take approximately 6 years to complete. During the study, you will have regular follow-ups with our team of experts to monitor your progress and ensure the Neuralink BCI continues to work as intended." The primary study involves "a combination of 9 at-home and in-person clinic visits and takes place over approximately 18 months."
Musk expressed his enthusiasm today, stating –"The first human patient will soon receive a Neuralink device. This ultimately has the potential to restore full body movement. In the long term, Neuralink hopes to play a role in AI risk civilizational risk reduction by improving human to AI (and human to human) bandwidth by several orders of magnitude. Imagine if Stephen Hawking had had this," wrote Musk via X on September 20. He also shared a video clip of the 'Star Wars' film stating that when a Neuralink is combined with Tesla Optimus robot limbs the "Luke Skywalker solution can become real," the video showcases Luke controlling a robotic hand.
When a Neuralink is combined with Optimus robot limbs, the Luke Skywalker solution can become real.https://t.co/Tr5Pa4Xfte— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 20, 2023
Neuralink's journey to this point has been marked by impressive technological advancements. The 'Link' chip is a coin-sized device equipped with 1,024 electrodes distributed across 64 threads that are "thinner than a human hair." These threads are implanted into the brain's motor cortex by the surgical R1 Robot, pictured below.
In November 2022, Neuralink wowed the world with a live demonstration featuring a monkey named 'Sake.' The primate, equipped with the Link chip, astounded spectators by manipulating a virtual keyboard using only its thoughts. Musk's vision of restoring autonomy to those with unmet medical needs through BCIs took a significant step closer to reality with this impressive showcase, watch the video clip linked below. As Neuralink embarks on its first-in-human clinical trial, the world watches with anticipation, recognizing the potential for this technology to transform the lives of individuals living with paralysis and propel us into a new era of human-AI interaction.
Neuralink is making Telepathy real! pic.twitter.com/M3I76P6u1N— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo (@JaneidyEve) May 26, 2023
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All Featured Images Source: Neuralink.com
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.