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  • Philip Osadebay - Tech Journalist

Elon Musk's new startup Neuralink is looking for volunteers for a brain-implant trial

Neuralink, the brain-computer interface (BCI) startup founded by Elon Musk is embarking on its human trial. This trial is aimed to unite human brains with computers targeting individuals with paralysis. With the use of advanced technology, participants will have a BCI implanted, enabling them to manipulate a computer cursor or type solely through their thoughts.

This milestone is encouraged as a result of Neuralink's achievement of gaining approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May, a significant progress after encountering several obstacles in obtaining authorization. The FDA's approval was a great advancement that Neuralink described as "an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people."

As the six-year study begins, a robot will delicately position 64 ultra-thin threads, finer than a human hair, into the brain region responsible for "movement intention." This Neuralink's experimental N1 implant is powered by a wireless rechargeable battery to capture and transmit brain signals to an app, decoding the individual's intended movements.

Individuals with quadriplegia due to injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a condition caused by the degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain qualify for this groundbreaking trial.

While Elon Musk's involvement brings considerable attention to Neuralink, it faces competition from established players such as Blackrock Neurotech, which began implanting BCIs in 2004, and Precision Neuroscience, a Neuralink co-founder's venture. The procedure offers a simpler implantation method resembling a thin piece of tape placed on the brain's surface.

Existing BCI devices have shown promise in recent US scientific studies enabling individuals to communicate by monitoring brain activity during speech attempts. While Neuralink benefits from robot-assisted implantation, questions remain regarding the potency of their method compared to competitors like Blackrock Neurotech, as well as concerns about long-term accuracy and reliability in this evolving field.


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