Neuralink Receives Approval for Human Trials
Neuralink Receives Approval for Human Trials: Elon Musk’s brain-machine interface startup, Neuralink, announced on Tuesday (September 19th) that the company has received approval from an independent review board to conduct its first human trials involving the implantation of brain devices in paralyzed patients.
According to Neuralink, the human trial will span six years, with participants initially engaging in an 18-month study followed by at least two hours per week of research on brain-machine interfaces. Neuralink stated that the research aims to test the safety and efficacy of their wireless fully implanted brain-machine interface, enabling paralyzed patients to control external devices with their minds.
Musk has previously stated that Neuralink’s short-term goal is to enable paralyzed individuals to type with their thoughts, and ultimately to allow them to walk and restore vision for the blind, ultimately achieving a “symbiosis between humans and AI.” Neuralink’s human clinical trial has obtained FDA approval.
According to the China Securities Journal, on May 26th, Musk’s brain-machine interface company, Neuralink, announced that its first human clinical trial has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to Musk, Neuralink is designing a device that converts brain signals into actions, with a focus on two applications: restoring human vision and assisting individuals with muscle paralysis in controlling smartphones and other devices, and even restoring full-body function for spinal cord injury patients.
Musk compares the device to a “Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires.” The device relies on up to 1,024 electrodes, each with a diameter of 5 micrometers, “sewn” into the patient’s brain gray matter to form connections with surrounding neurons.
It provides a high-resolution sampling of brain electrical emissions and converts them between analog electrical pulses and digital computer code. Brain-machine interfaces involve the implantation of tiny electrodes in the brain to facilitate interaction between computers and brain cells by using electrical currents.
In 2019, Musk unveiled the first product, which involved drilling holes in the skull with lasers, avoiding brain blood vessels, and then implanting a wire into the brain.
In August 2020, researchers implanted devices inside the bodies of three pigs to verify the effectiveness of the brain-machine interface. During a live demo, Musk showcased real-time transmission of brain activity in a pig, showing the pig’s brain signals becoming active when it was touched or fed.
By further analyzing its brain signals, the researchers could predict the pig’s movements and patterns. In April 2021, Neuralink released an online video demonstrating a monkey playing a video game using its mind.
The monkey had a Neuralink implant in its brain, which controlled a computer cursor using only its thoughts. This demonstration showcased the potential of Neuralink’s technology in enabling individuals with paralysis to regain control and independence in their daily lives.
Neuralink’s first human trials mark an important milestone in the development of brain-machine interfaces and bring us one step closer to achieving Musk’s vision of a symbiotic relationship.
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