First Neuralink human trial subject can control a computer mouse with brain implant, Elon Musk says

New York –

Elon Musk says Neuralink’s first human trial participant can control a computer mouse with their brain, nearly one month after having the company’s chip implanted. But details remain sparse, and other companies working on brain-computer interfaces appear to have so far cleared more technological hurdles than Neuralink.

“Progress is good, patient seems to have made a full recovery… and is able to control the mouse, move the mouse around the screen just by thinking,” Musk, who owns the controversial brain chip startup, said in a conversation in an X Spaces event Monday night.

“We’re trying to get as many button presses as possible from thinking, so that’s what we’re currently working on is — can we get left mouse, right mouse, mouse down, mouse up,” he said, “which is kind of needed if you want to click and drag something, you need mouse down and to hold on mouse down.”

Musk said last month that the company had completed its first implantation surgery on a human test subject, after having received approval last year to study the safety and functionality of its chip implant and surgical tools on humans.

Trial patients will have a chip surgically placed in the part of the brain that controls the intention to move. The chip, installed by a robot, will then record and send brain signals to an app, with the initial goal being “to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone,” the company wrote in September.

Early success in the first human trial of the brain chip technology could mark an important milestone for Neuralink’s efforts to usher potentially life-transforming technology — especially for people unable to move or communicate — out of the lab and into the real world.

However, Musk has offered few details and no evidence about the outcome of the operation, so it’s not yet clear how significant of a scientific advancement the implantation represents.

Neuralink did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ultimately, Neuralink’s ambition is to use implants to connect human brains to computers to help, for example, paralyzed people to control smartphones or computers, or blind people to regain sight. Like existing brain-machine interfaces, the company’s implant would collect electrical signals sent out by the brain and interpret them as actions.

Musk said last month that the company’s first product would be called Telepathy, adding that its initial users will be people 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,” he wrote.

One thing is clear: Consumers will not have widespread access to the technology anytime soon. Before Neuralink’s brain implants hit the broader market, they’ll need regulatory approval.

Other companies doing similar work are farther along in the research process – for example, one firm called Synchron has been enrolling and implanting people in its trial since 2021.

Sychron said earlier this year that early human testers of its brain implant device, all of whom previously suffered from “severe paralysis,” were able to use the device to control a personal computing device for “for routine digital activities” such as texting, emailing and online shopping.

Neuralink faced scrutiny after a monkey died in 2022 during an attempt to get the animal to play Pong, one of the first video games. In December 2022, employees told Reuters that the company was rushing to market, resulting in careless animal deaths and a federal investigation.

But in May of last year, Neuralink received FDA clearance for human clinical trials, and a few months later, the startup began recruiting patients with quadriplegia caused by cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The trial is part of what Neuralink is calling its “PRIME Study,” short for “Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface,” which aims to study the safety of its implant and surgical robot, and to test the functionality of its device, the company said in a September blog post about recruiting trial participants.

CNN’s Diksha Madhok and Jen Christensen contributed to this report


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