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Neuralink: Elon Musk has a problem with the first human patient

© Lemon squeezer/Unsplash/Teslariu Mihai

The Neuralink adventure continues, with its ups and downs. After a long standoff lasting several years with the FDA (Food & Drug Administration), Neuralink was finally able to begin testing its direct neural interface brain implant on a human patient at the end of January 2024. .

If everything seemed well underway in the first weeks following placement of the implant, Neuralink has just announced that the chip is experiencing a “slight” malfunction. Elon Musk reassures: there is nothing insurmountable about it. However, these complications do not come at the right time because the competing startup Synchron is already ahead of the firm founded by Elon Musk…

First problems on a human patient for Neuralink

A few months ago, Neuralink reached a new key milestone in the brain implant adventure. Noland Arbaugh is the first human patient of Elon Musk’s neurotech company, which promises to “cure the incurable.” Indeed, with its brain implant, Neuralink aims to allow its patients to control a computer through thought. Promises that could well revolutionize the lives of many people with disabilities.

After several weeks without incident, the chip of Neuralink's first human patient encountered mechanical problems. Which is always alarming. Specifically, some electrode wires implanted in the brain tissue have started to retract and are preventing the device from working properly. As indicated by Les Echos, the wires from the Neuralink chip connect to a device that sits in the skull bone, not on the surface of the brain tissue (which is usually the case). Important element: the brain moves in the intracranial space. A detail that surely escaped the Neuralink teams. Note that animal brains are smaller. Consequently, the electrodes do not move as much as in humans, recalls neurosurgeon at the Faculty of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, Eric Leuthardt.

But Elon Musk wants to be reassuring. Despite the dysfunctions encountered by this first human trial, there would be no reason to panic. In a press release, Neuralink states that it has resolved the problem. A series of software fixes therefore compensated for this retraction and “produced rapid and sustained improvement that has now exceeded Noland's initial performance”.

As his press release suggests, the problems encountered by the implant does not seem to slow down Neuralink. Elon Musk's neurotech company said it is currently working on improving text input for the device, but also cursor control. In the longer term, Neuralink would like to be able to use devices such as robotic arms and wheelchairs. Likewise, we know that the company is looking to recruit new human patients. These dysfunctions having now been compensated for, Neuralink continues to consider implanting its chip in other human patients in the coming weeks.

    < li>Several weeks after Neuralink's brain implant was placed on a human patient, the neurotechnology company encountered a problem
  • Certain electrode wires implanted in the brain tissue began to retract and prevent the device from functioning properly
  • But these malfunctions were resolved thanks to a series of software fixes

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116