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Musk announces that the next Neuralink brain implant is anticipated to be released in the upcoming week or shortly thereafter.

Jonathan Raa | Nurphoto | Getty Images

On Wednesday, Elon Musk revealed that Neuralink, the brain technology venture, is looking to implant its latest system in a second human recipient within the coming week or shortly thereafter. The company is also actively addressing hardware issues encountered with its initial participant.

Neuralink’s core focus is the development of a brain-computer interface (BCI) aimed at assisting individuals with paralysis in controlling devices such as phones or computers through brain signals. The first system, Telepathy, comprises 64 “threads” intricately inserted into the brain, each thinner than a human hair and equipped with 1,024 electrodes, as detailed on the Neuralink website.

While BCIs have been a subject of academic exploration for many years, various other firms like Synchron, Paradromics, and Precision Neuroscience are working on their own systems. None of these companies have received FDA approval to commercialize their devices yet.

Musk articulated during a live discussion with Neuralink executives that the company plans to carry out implant procedures on a few select patients this year. However, specifics regarding the timing and location of these surgeries, as well as FDA authorization status, remain unclear.

In January, Neuralink conducted its first BCI implant in a 29-year-old individual, Noland Arbaugh, at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. A blog post in April by Neuralink described the surgery as a success.

Following the procedure, some threads from the implant retracted from Arbaugh’s brain, although this issue has not directly endangered his well-being. The company deliberated on removing the implant, but it was reported that the retraction has not posed an immediate risk, as per The Wall Street Journal.

During the recent live session, Musk and the Neuralink executives noted that only about 15% of the channels in Arbaugh’s implant are operational. Nonetheless, he utilizes the BCI extensively for activities like watching videos, reading, playing chess, and engaging in video games for up to 70 hours each week.

Neuralink plans to improve upcoming implants by taking precautions against retraction and closely monitoring any movement. President DJ Seo mentioned strategies like altering the skull’s surface to reduce the gap beneath the implant and inserting some threads deeper into brain tissue to assess movement more effectively.

“Knowing that retraction is a possibility, we’ll be implanting threads at different depths moving forward,” stated Dr. Matthew MacDougall, head of neurosurgery at Neuralink.

[Source: CNBC]

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