Breaking NewsFinanceNewsPop cultureScienceTech

Neuralink Reports First Human Implant Has ‘Malfunctioned’

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is facing its first major challenge as the threads recording neural activity for its first human brain implant “retracted” several weeks after the surgery. This has vastly decreased the functionality of the implant.

The Hill reports that Neuralink, the neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk, revealed on Wednesday that the first implant placed in a human malfunctioned due to the retraction of multiple threads recording brain activity. The patient, 29-year-old quadriplegic Noland Arbaugh, had the Neuralink hardware placed in his brain during a surgery in late January 2023. Following the surgery, several threads had retracted from his brain, resulting in decreased functionality of the Neuralink hardware. This manifested as a reduced ability to control a computer cursor through his brain.

Neuralink has since responded to this issue by adjusting the recording algorithm, improving translation techniques for signal conversion, and enhancing the user interface. These modifications reportedly led to a “rapid and sustained improvement” in bits-per-second, a metric evaluating the speed and accuracy of cursor control. Arbaugh’s performance surpassed the initial results post-surgery.

Although the implant malfunction’s implications for Arbaugh’s safety are uncertain, Neuralink has discussed the possibility of removing the implant. The company has also informed the FDA that they believe they have a solution to the problem, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Breitbart News previously reported on Neuralink’s issues, writing:

A detailed investigation has brought to light the unsettling circumstances surrounding the deaths of monkeys used in Neuralink’s preliminary experiments. Elon Musk has staunchly denied that the deaths were a direct consequence of the implants, maintaining that the chosen test subjects were “close to death already.” However, these assertions are contradicted by accounts revealing severe complications, including chronic infections, paralysis, and brain swelling, experienced by the test subjects, necessitating euthanasia.

Wired provided some details on the situations some of the test animals were put in, writing:

For example, in an experimental surgery that took place in December 2019, performed to determine the “survivability” of an implant, an internal part of the device “broke off” while being implanted. Overnight, researchers observed the monkey, identified only as “Animal 20” by UC Davis, scratching at the surgical site, which emitted a bloody discharge, and yanking on a connector that eventually dislodged part of the device. A surgery to repair the issue was carried out the following day, yet fungal and bacterial infections took root. Vet records note that neither infection was likely to be cleared, in part because the implant was covering the infected area. The monkey was euthanized on January 6, 2020.

Describing the treatment of another animal, Wired reported:

Additional veterinary reports show the condition of a female monkey called “Animal 15” during the months leading up to her death in March 2019. Days after her implant surgery, she began to press her head against the floor for no apparent reason; a symptom of pain or infection, the records say. Staff observed that though she was uncomfortable, picking and pulling at her implant until it bled, she would often lie at the foot of her cage and spend time holding hands with her roommate.

Animal 15 began to lose coordination, and staff observed that she would shake uncontrollably when she saw lab workers. Her condition deteriorated for months until the staff finally euthanized her. A necropsy report indicates that she had bleeding in her brain and that the Neuralink implants left parts of her cerebral cortex “focally tattered.”

Neuralink’s implant has been in place for just over 100 days, and the company is celebrating its progress, highlighting Arbaugh’s ability to play online computer games, browse the internet, live-stream, and use other applications through brain-controlled cursor movement.



Related Articles

Back to top button