Elon Musk announced Monday that the Neuralink startup he co-founded placed its first brain implant in a patient on Sunday, an operation that other companies and researchers have performed several times before. Neuralink, located in Fremont (California), a suburb of San Francisco, received the green light from the U.S. Drug and Medical Device Regulatory Agency, FDA, in May.
His coin-sized implant had already been placed in the brain of a macaque that could play the video game “Pong” without a controller or keyboard.
“Early results show promising neuronal activity,” Elon Musk wrote on X (formerly Twitter) regarding the patient’s implant.
Paralysis, blind, psychiatric patients
Founded in 2016, Neuralink is far from the first to install a brain implant, also called a brain-machine interface (BMI), on a human. In September, the Dutch company Onward announced that it was testing the connection of a brain implant with another that stimulates the spinal cord, with the aim of allowing a quadriplegic patient to regain mobility.
Already in 2019, scientists from the Grenoble Clinatec Institute presented an implant that, after installation, allows a quadriplegic to animate the exoskeleton and move his arms or move around.
VIDEO. “I can stand up, take a shower, I feel free”: Michel, a paraplegic, walks again thanks to a new implant
Neuralink recently raised approximately $323 million from investors in two tranches, in August and November. Neuralink says it also wants to make paralyzed patients walk again, but also restore sight to the blind and even cure psychiatric illnesses such as depression.
Elon Musk also aims to offer his implant to everyone to enable better communication with computers and contain what he says is a “risk to our civilization” posed by artificial intelligence.