Elon Musk’s Neuralink to Implant Second Brain Chip as First Patient Deals with Failing Device

Elon Musk shrugs
Scott Olsen/Getty

Despite facing major setbacks with its first human brain-chip implant, Neuralink, the brain-computer interface company owned by Elon Musk, is pushing forward with plans for a second patient.

Ars Technica reports that Neuralink, the brain-computer interface company owned by Elon Musk, has encountered challenges with its first human patient, 29-year-old Noland Arbaugh. A recent report from The Wall Street Journal reveals that only about 15 percent of the electrode-bearing threads implanted in Arbaugh’s brain continue to work properly. The remaining 85 percent of the threads became displaced, with many of the threads that were left receiving little to no signals being shut off.

The company’s brain-chip consists of 64 threads, each thinner than a human hair and carrying multiple electrodes. In total, the chip boasts 1,024 electrodes, which are surgically implanted near neurons of interest to record signals that can be decoded into intended actions. Neuralink had previously disclosed in a May 8 blog post that “a number” of these threads had “retracted” in the first patient’s brain.

Elon Musk plotting

Elon Musk, billionaire and chief executive officer of Tesla, at the Viva Tech fair in Paris, France, on Friday, June 16, 2023. Musk predicted his Neuralink Corp. would carry out its first brain implant later this year. Photographer: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg

Arbaugh shared his emotional journey with the Journal, admitting that he had cried upon learning of the setback and had asked Neuralink to perform another surgery to fix or replace the implant. However, the company declined, stating that it wanted to wait for more information. Arbaugh has since recovered from the initial disappointment and remains hopeful about the technology’s potential, stating, “I thought that I had just gotten to, you know, scratch the surface of this amazing technology, and then it was all going to be taken away. But it only took me a few days to really recover from that and realize that everything I’ve done up to that point was going to benefit everyone who came after me.”

As Neuralink gears up to implant its chip into a second trial participant, the company believes it can prevent thread movement by implanting the fine wires deeper into brain tissue. The FDA, which oversees clinical trials, has reportedly given the green light for Neuralink to implant the threads 8 millimeters into the brain of the second patient, a significant increase from the 3 mm to 5 mm depth used in Arbaugh’s implantation. The company hopes to perform the second surgery sometime in June.

It is worth noting that brain-computer interface chips have been around for many years. In 2006, researchers reported the first case of a brain chip allowing a tetraplegic patient to control a “neural cursor” that could be used to open email, operate devices, and control a prosthetic hand and a robotic arm. The chip used was a Utah Array containing 96 electrodes, which can penetrate up to 1.5 mm into brain tissue.

Read more at Ars Technica here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.


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