Elon Musk and Neuralink

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Seeks Second Participant for Brain Chip Trial

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is inviting applications for a second human trial participant to test its brain chip, the billionaire announced on X Friday. This call comes five months after the first human trial began and just a week after the company reported an issue with the initial implant.

The first participant, 30-year-old Noland Arbaugh, received the implant to help him control a computer cursor with his brain. Despite an unexpected problem where the threads connecting the chip to Arbaugh’s brain retracted, affecting performance, Neuralink made adjustments to improve its functionality. Arbaugh, who became a quadriplegic after a diving accident in 2016, expressed gratitude for the technology, saying it gave him a new purpose.

“This has changed my life,” Arbaugh told Good Morning America. “Being part of something so monumental has given me a reason to wake up in the morning.”

Neuralink’s goal is to connect human brains to computers, aiding those with paralysis in controlling devices like smartphones or computers and helping the blind regain sight. The current trial called the PRIME Study (Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface), aims to test the safety and functionality of the implant and its surgical robot.

The company is seeking participants with limited or no ability to use both hands due to cervical spinal cord injury or ALS. Trial patients will have chips implanted in the brain area that controls movement intention. The chip records and sends brain signals to an app, allowing control of a computer cursor or keyboard using thoughts alone.

A month after his operation, Arbaugh could control a computer mouse with his brain. However, when the device encountered performance issues, Arbaugh found it challenging to cope. “I cried afterwards,” he said, referring to the setback.

DJ Seo, Neuralink’s co-founder, emphasized the importance of these trials in identifying and resolving issues early. “We do clinical trials to uncover these issues before marketing,” Seo told Good Morning America. “We found ways for Noland to recover his performance, which we successfully achieved.”

While the technology holds promise, widespread consumer access will require further regulatory approval.

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