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Neuralink's first brain implant fails to function
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This Tuesday (08), businessman Elon Musk's brain technology company, Neuralink, reported that the first chip transplanted by the company in January of this year into a human showed defects. The announcement, made in a post on the corporation's blog, details that, after a few weeks of implantation, some electrode wires, which are installed in human brain tissue, began to retract, preventing the chip from functioning correctly.

The announcement of the operating defect goes against the company's attempt to carry out more transplants in human beings. Defect reports could result in an impasse with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), responsible for granting authorization for Neuralink to carry out the necessary procedures in the United States.

The transplant

Noland Arbaugh, 29, is Neuralink's first transplant. The patient, who became quadriplegic after suffering a diving accident, was able, through the implant, to play chess online using only mind control. In addition to providing autonomy to those with reduced mobility, one of the purposes of implanting the electrodes would be to map diseases such as paralysis, epilepsy and Parkinson's in order to treat them.

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Noland Arbaugh controlling a game of chess with his mind (Video: reproduction/Youtube/UOL)


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Neuralink's resolution

As an error correction measure, Neuralink reported that the retraction of the electrode wires was compensated with several software corrections. This resulted in a rapid and constant recovery of the patient, who has now reestablished his initial performance.

Neuralink also reported that it is working to improve text entry and device cursor control. Thus, the company hopes to extend the use of devices into the physical world with robotic arms and wheelchairs.

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Embed from Getty Images

Neuralink website (Photo: reproduction/Getty Images Embed/Gabby Jones/Bloomberg)


What the experts say

In an interview with Bloomberg, experts in the field of brain implants explain that the complications faced by the company in the first implant may have occurred due to “the wires connect to a device that sits inside the skull, rather than on the surface of the brain tissue.” Typically, tests are performed with brain implants on top of brain tissue, which allows for greater stability of the transplanted device.

Eric Leuthardt, a neurosurgeon at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, further explains that it is not possible to establish how much the brain can move within the brain space. The action of moving the head or balance can result in disturbances of several millimeters.

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Featured photo: Neuralink's first brain implant malfunctions (Reproduction/Getty Images Embed/Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto)

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Neuralink's first brain implant fails to function

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Neuralink's first brain implant fails to function

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