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Neuralink aims to enable people with quadriplegia to control devices with their thoughts | Photo source Pixabay

A neural implant for recording brain activity

Computing & Tech

The device aims to give people with quadriplegia control over devices with their thoughts

Spotted: Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk in 2016, is developing a high-bandwidth, implantable brain-computer interface (BCI). The goal is to both record and stimulate neural activity with a greater bandwidth than ever before.

The implant could enable those with quadriplegia to control devices, such as computers or smartphones, with their thoughts. The device is still in the phase of animal testing, but Musk believes that it could eventually provide humans with superhuman intelligence through integration with artificial intelligence (AI).  

Until now, the standard method used to record neural activity has been electroencephalography, which is non-invasive — taking place outside of the brain. However, according to Musk, an invasive BCI has the benefit of recording signals from individual neurons rather than activity from the brain as a whole. 

“Everything we see, perceive or think are action potentials, or spikes,” Musk said at the California Academy of Sciences.

Neuralink currently uses a surgical robot to implant thousands of electrodes on the cortex of the animal’s brain. The company suggests that because the electrodes they use are much thinner and more manageable, they are less likely to cause tissue damage. Whilst the electrodes currently connect to a USB port outside the brain, they have the potential to be wireless. 



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