Neuralink’s First Human Subject Demonstrates His Brain-Computer Interface


On Wednesday, Neuralink introduced the first human subject to receive the company’s brain implant, a 29-year-old man who has been paralyzed from the shoulders down for eight years after a diving accident.

In a brief livestream on the social media platform X, the man said he’s able to play online chess and the video game Civilization using the Neuralink device. “If y’all can see the cursor moving around the screen, that’s all me,” he said during the livestream as he moved a digital chess piece. “It’s pretty cool, huh?”

Neuralink, which was cofounded in 2016 by billionaire Elon Musk, is developing a system known as a brain-computer interface, which decodes movement intention from brain signals. The company’s initial goal is to allow paralyzed people to control a cursor or keyboard using just their thoughts.

The company received a greenlight from the US Food and Drug Administration last year to move ahead with an initial human trial and began recruiting paralyzed participants in the fall to test the device.

Up until now, Neuralink has revealed few details about the progress of that study. In an X post in January, Musk announced that the first human subject had received Neuralink’s implant and was “recovering well.” In February, he said that the person had recovered and was able to control a computer mouse using their thoughts.

“Progress is good and the patient seems to have made a full recovery, with no ill effects that we are aware of,” Musk said on February 19 in a Spaces audio conversation on X, in response to a question about the participant’s condition. “[The] patient is able to move a mouse around the screen just by thinking.”

Some neuroscientists and ethicists have criticized Neuralink’s previous lack of transparency around the trial. What’s known about Neuralink’s study comes from social media posts and a brief brochure the company published last year.

Neuralink has not revealed the number of subjects that will be enrolled in the study, the trial site, or outcomes that will be assessed. And the company has not registered on ClinicalTrials.gov, a government repository that contains information on medical studies involving human subjects.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.





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