What is Telepathy? Neuralink's brain implant successfully tested on first human recipient

Making the announcement via social media, Musk, the visionary entrepreneur, tweeted, "The first human received an implant from @Neuralink yesterday and is recovering well."

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Courtesy: X/Neuralink

New Delhi: Elon Musk, the renowned billionaire behind Neuralink, revealed on Monday that the inaugural human recipient of a Neuralink brain implant underwent the pioneering procedure on Sunday and is currently in a stable recovery phase.

Making the announcement via social media, Musk, the visionary entrepreneur, tweeted, "The first human received an implant from @Neuralink yesterday and is recovering well."

Neuralink obtained approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year to commence its inaugural human trial aimed at evaluating the functionality and safety of its innovative brain-chip technology.

Musk posted on microblogging site X, "The first Neuralink product is called Telepathy."

"Enables control of your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking. Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs. Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal," he added.

"Initial findings demonstrate promising detection of neuron spikes," Musk's tweet elaborated.

According to Neuralink's official website, the project known as the PRIME Study (Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface) represents a groundbreaking medical device trial. The study seeks to assess the safety and efficacy of Neuralink's implant (N1) and surgical robot (R1) in facilitating individuals with paralysis to control external devices using their thoughts.

The PRIME Study involves the use of the R1 Robot to precisely position the ultra-fine and flexible threads of the N1 Implant within the brain region responsible for movement intention. Once implanted, the N1 device, imperceptible to the naked eye, records and wirelessly transmits brain signals to an application designed to interpret movement intentions. Initially, the focus of the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) is to empower individuals to manipulate a computer cursor or keyboard solely through their thoughts.

The investigational device exemption (IDE) granted by the FDA in May 2023 facilitated the commencement of the PRIME Study. Neuralink views this as a crucial milestone in its mission to develop a universal brain interface to restore autonomy to individuals with unmet medical needs.

Controversy surrounding Neuralink's animal testing

Despite the groundbreaking nature of its technology, Neuralink and Elon Musk have faced significant criticism for their animal testing practices. In February 2022, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine lodged a complaint, alleging that Neuralink conducted invasive and lethal brain experiments on laboratory animals.

By December of the same year, federal authorities launched an investigation into Neuralink's compliance with animal welfare standards. Documents revealed that since 2018, the company had euthanised approximately 1,500 animals, including rats, monkeys, pigs, and mice.

In response to these serious allegations, Neuralink defended its practices, asserting that the rhesus macaque monkeys under its care were treated with utmost respect and dignity.