Would you accept? Elon Musk seeks volunteers to test brain implants

Neuralink, one of the most ambitious start-ups in Elon Muskis looking for altruistic volunteers to take part in a pioneering study that aims to transform the lives of people with cerebral palsy.

The company, which specializes in brain-computer interfaces (BCI), recently obtained approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct its first tests on humans.

This milestone represents a significant step towards a medical revolution that could allow patients with quadriplegia or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) to control their movements through computers and be able to communicate based solely on their thoughts.

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Better quality of life for patients with cerebral palsy

The core of this revolutionary study is the BCI system (Brain-Computer Interfaceor, in Portuguese, Brain-Computer Interface), which Neuralink will implant in its participants.

A specialized robot will be responsible for surgically inserting 64 flexible wires, thinner than a human hair, into a specific area of ​​the brain related to the intention of movement.

This experimental implant, called N1, will be powered by a battery that can be carried wirelessly, and may be capable of recording and transmitting direct signals to an application that will understand the person’s movement desires.

To achieve this, Neuralink is looking for participants who face serious mobility challenges due to quadriplegia or ALS. The hope is that these volunteers can regain a significant amount of independence and quality of life through this innovative technology.

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Competition in the field of BCI

Despite the normal concern surrounding Neuralink, the company faces competition from others who have been in the BCI field for decades.

Utah-based Blackrock Neurotech implanted its first BCI devices in 2004. Additionally, Precision Neuroscience, founded by one of Neuralink’s co-founders, developed an implant that resembles a thin ribbon on the surface of the brain , facilitating the implementation process.

Due to high competition, advances in BCI research are generating notable results. Recent studies in the United States have revealed that supervisory implants can monitor brain activity when a person tries to speak, offering hope for future communications.

Adrien Rapeaux, research associate at the Neural Interfaces Laboratory at Imperial College London, warns of the need to ensure that the conversion of signals into actions remains reliable in the long term, a challenge recognized in the field.

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However, even though there is this challenge, Adrien Rapeaux highlights the advantage of Neuralink in terms of robot-assisted implementation, being very well regarded in the field in question.

The hope of helping with patient challenges

The search for volunteers for the Neuralink study represents a huge step towards realizing a long-term dream: allowing people with cerebral palsy control your bodies and communicate only with your thoughts.

While competition in the BCI field is increasing, what never diminishes is the hope of improving the quality of life for those facing mobility challenges being the focus of these technological advancements.