Musk fulfills promise: FDA approves human trial of brain-computer interface

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As one of the most cutting-edge scientific fields at present, brain-computer interface technology has attracted governments from many countries around the world and various forces from industry, academia and research to participate in the layout.

In 2023, scientific research exploration and technological innovation in the field of brain-computer interface will be particularly active, with representative research results and application exploration progress being highlighted. Following the successful completion of the world's first non-human primate interventional brain-computer interface test in Beijing by Nankai University in my country in early May (for details, please see the announcement on May 6, 2023! The world's first! Interventional brain-computer interface monkey Experiment completed in Beijing), Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface company Neuralink announced via social media on May 26 that it “has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to launch the first human clinical study.”

Brain-computer interface (BCI) establishes a direct information communication path between the brain and the external environment, which can replace, repair, improve, supplement or enhance the normal output of the central nervous system. According to the way of obtaining brain activity, it can be divided into invasive BCI and non-invasive BCI.



The brain signals acquired by invasive BCI usually have high spatial and temporal resolution, which facilitates subsequent high-precision signal decoding. However, surgery is required to directly place the electrodes into the skull, which carries surgical risks.

Non-invasive BCI measures brain activity through sensors placed on the scalp. The method of acquiring signals is non-invasive and is more suitable for use in large groups of people.

In 2021, the IpsiHand upper limb rehabilitation system device developed by Neurolutions to help stroke patients recover was authorized for sale. The system is non-invasive and has two main components, worn on the head and arms respectively. It combines robotic technology with a brain-computer interface to help stroke patients improve upper limb function.

In 2021, Synchron, a company invested by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, used minimally invasive surgery to place implants in blood vessels for information transmission, and was the first to receive FDA approval for the first brain transplant in the United States. Machine-to-human clinical trials.

In 2023, Neuralink, a brain-computer interface company co-founded by Elon Musk, received approval from the US FDA and will conduct its first human clinical study. This clinical approval has been full of twists and turns. In November 2022, Musk said that Neuralink's first human-implanted brain-computer interface will be carried out within 6 months. In early March 2023, the FDA rejected Neuralink’s clinical trial application.

According to Neuralink, the Link brain chip is a new type of brain-computer interface that will be able to increase our connection with the visual cortex, auditory cortex, tactile cortex and motor cortex of the brain in the future, thereby helping to treat various nervous systems such as paralysis, Parkinson's disease, and epilepsy. Illness also expands the way we interact with others, the world, and ourselves.



Implanted into the skull by a surgical robot, thousands of tiny electrodes on one end of the chip are connected to brain neurons. The chip is charged wirelessly and connected to devices such as mobile phones or computers via Bluetooth to record or participate in the regulation of neuronal activity. Musk became the focus of public opinion when he said he was so confident in the safety of these devices that he was even willing to implant them into his own children.

The human brain has approximately 86 billion neurons, and there are 100 trillion connections between them. This is undoubtedly an extremely large astronomical number. You must know that the entire Milky Way galaxy "only" has 400 billion stars. The human brain can be said to be the most complex living structure in history. Although there is still a long way to fully understand the brain, this does not prevent scientists in the field of neuroscience from constantly making new progress.

Of course, we must also see that for Neuralink, obtaining FDA approval is obviously an important step, but there are obviously still many challenges and tests from clinical research to clinical application. At present, the research on brain-computer interface technology is still in the research laboratory stage. Controversies surrounding its safety, privacy protection, social ethics and other aspects are still ongoing. It will still take a long time before it can actually enter clinical applications or even enter public life. distance.



We believe that with the development of brain-computer interface technology, brain-computer interface is expected to become an indispensable tool in the daily life of patients and healthy subjects.

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