Neuralink: a second patient soon to be implanted with the chip, despite reservations about the first

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Last February, Elon Musk was able to confirm the first ever placement of its implant in a human brain. Named Nolan Arbaugh, this patient first indicated that he had greatly benefited from the Neuralink chip, having been left paralyzed following a diving accident. Last March, he indicated that he had spent a whole night playing Civilization 6as he had given up all hope of enjoying such a hobby following his accident. However, despite this idyllic facade, Neuralink had neglected to mention a problem.

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Indeed, after the operation, it was noticed that some of the chip's wires had retracted from the brain (only 15% of the wires are functional), which caused Nolan to lose the ability to control his screen for a while. Finally, Neuralink fixed the problem, notably by improving the recording algorithm to make it more sensitive to brain signals. And while this first attempt is proving more or less successful, Elon Musk announced yesterday, Wednesday July 10, that the firm would implant a second patient during the next week.

Giving humans “superpowers”

For future implants, the company said it wants to mitigate wire retraction and measure it more accurately. Neuralink also plans to insert some wires deeper into brain tissue to track the extent of movement. The ultimate goal is to restore mobility to paralyzed people by implanting a second implant in their spinal cord. Musk, who is known for his reserve, has promised that the technology will give humans “superpowers.”

Faced with this work in completely uncharted territory, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which authorized human testing last year, says:continue to monitor the safety of individuals enrolled in the Neuralink implant device study through regular reporting“. As a reminder, a second patient was already planned by Neuralink a few months ago, before seeing the procedure cancelled for medical reasons.

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