What’s Neuralink? Knowledge We Have So Far.

All about the surgically implanted brain chip brought to you by Elon Musk.

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Elon Musk launched Neuralink to create an implanted brain-computer interface that can act on thought. Founded in 2016, the private firm promises its neurological gadget can let paraplegics walk and blind individuals see.

A patient received Neuralink’s first brain implant in January 2024. Paralyzed below the shoulders, the patient played chess on his laptop using Neuralink.

What is Neuralink?

Ramses Alcaide, CEO of Neurable, a neurotech startup manufacturing non-invasive brain-computer interface headphones, claimed Neuralink is designing a gadget “designed to connect human brains directly to computers.” “Neuralink’s technology can record and decode neural signals and send information back to the brain using electrical stimulation.”

The implant is termed “the Link.” This coin-sized brain chip is surgically installed under the skull and receives input from neural threads that branch out into motor skill-controlling brain regions. Sensors in each wire record and produce electrical currents “so fine and flexible that they can’t be inserted by the human hand,” according to Neuralink’s website. Neuralink produced a completely automated neurosurgical robot for that reason.

The business is also creating a mind-controlled keyboard and mouse software.

Sumner Norman, a scientist at nonprofit company Convergent Research and former chief brain-computer interface scientist at software business AE Studio, said Neurolink is at the forefront of commercializing, scalable versions of academic research.

He stated, “There’s been decades of academic research to push this [field] as far as it can go, but ultimately, it becomes a very expensive space to develop.”

How Neuralink Works?

Norman said Neuralink’s technology is electrophysiological.

Neurons connect across synapses to generate electrical chemical signals in the nervous system. Electrodes, which sense voltages, measure the “spikes” of their firing to record brain activity.

Thus, our brain activity is recorded when we act and when we consider acting.

Neuralink’s brain-computer interface isn’t mind reading.

“It simply calculates the brain activity and diagnoses it as an act,” said Sonal Baberwal, a Dublin City University student developing device learning algorithms for brain-computer interface gadgets.

This approach is similar to how blood pressure measures tension or relaxation, according to Baberwal.

“Similarly, your brain signals—eyes closed or opened, relaxed or deep sleep, action or focus—can be detected,” she said.

These sensors capture complicated data sets, which are analyzed using machine learning algorithms and other AI agents.

How Will Neuralink Work?

On Neuralink’s website, the company’s primary objective is to assist paralyzed people in communicating again. It wants to restore motor, sensory, and visual skills and cure neurological illnesses.

“A Neuralink-like device can improve human memory, processing speed, and cognitive abilities by directly integrating the brain and digital devices,” Alcaide added.

Regain mobility

The brain-computer interface can control prosthetics or exoskeletons. Alcaide says this use case would help paralyzed and amputees regain movement and independence.

Help nonverbal people communicate

Neuralink helps those who cannot speak or write communicate by letting them utilize a virtual mouse, keyboard, or through chat.

Paraplegics can use voice or text synthesis to browse the web and create digital art on computers and mobile devices.

Treat neurological conditions

Alcaide claimed brain-computer interfaces may identify neurological disorders including epilepsy, bipolar illness, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s by monitoring brain activity.

Mental health symptoms can be monitored using them. Norman suggested using electrical stimulation to treat burnout, weariness, anxiety, and depression, which are brain-wide rather than localized like motor abilities.

“Treating or curing stiffness, neurological diseases, and injuries could make the world a substantially more excellent site, where very few individuals have untreatable forms of sadness or stress,” said Norman, who has spent a decade developing brain-computer interfaces and neuroprosthetics for neurological injury and disease. Giving agency back to the powerless is a clear advantage.

Boost your brainpower

Users may train their brains with real-time biofeedback and other methods to increase focus, memory, and attention. Musk calls the Connection a “Fitbit in your skull with all the detectors you’d hope to see in a smartwatch.”

“If you could sense every neuron in the human brain at once, what would you do with that data?” We don’t know,” Norman remarked. “There are 80 billion neurons in the brain with 1,000 synapses—how do you interpret that data?”

Norman claimed Neuralink’s technology can discover up to 10,000 of these connections, compared to hundreds in academic experiments.

Does Neuralink have FDA approval?

Yes. Neuralink reported on May 25, 2023, that has acquired FDA approval for an in-human clinical study. The trial recruiting has not yet begun, but the firm tweeted that it will “announce more information on this soon.”

Use of Neuralink on Humans?

On January 28, 2024, 29-year-old Noland Arbaugh received the first Neuralink implant. According to the firm website, the first clinical trial is “open for recruitment.” The neural implant was tried on rats, mice, monkeys, lambs, and pigs.

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