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Elon Musk's First Neuralink Patient Made A Full Recovery, But The FDA And Some Doctors Have Concerns About Patient's Long-Term Health

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Corp. successfully implanted a brain chip in its first human patient, marking a significant milestone in the development of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs).

The patient, whose identity remains undisclosed, has reportedly made a full recovery and can control a computer mouse using their thoughts. Musk announced the achievement, highlighting Neuralink’s progress and its potential to transform the way humans interact with technology. The implant, designed to facilitate direct communication between the brain and external devices, could offer groundbreaking solutions for people with neurological disorders and mobility issues​​​​.

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Neuralink’s device consists of a small, coin-sized chip implanted in the skull, connected to ultra-thin wires that interface directly with the brain. This setup aims to monitor brain activity and enable control over digital devices through thought alone. The broader vision for Neuralink includes treating a wide range of conditions, including motor function disorders, by restoring or enhancing the affected capabilities​​.

However, this pioneering technology has raised several concerns. Ethical questions have been posed about the rapid pace of development and the potential risks involved in brain surgery, such as hemorrhages or seizures. Additionally, the use of Neuralink’s technology in animals before human trials has been scrutinized, with reports of adverse effects including paralysis, seizures and brain swelling in test subjects. These issues highlight the need for rigorous safety assessments and transparency in the development process​​.

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During a visit to the Neuralink facility before the first human patient, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raised concerns about animal treatment and welfare, as first reported by Decrypt. Despite these concerns, it still gave the green light to proceed with the human trials.

The scientific community also has expressed concerns about the long-term functionality and safety of the device. Experts are keen to see whether the quality of neuronal signal detection degrades over time, a common issue with existing BCIs. The longevity and reliability of Neuralink’s implant remain critical questions as the technology moves forward​​.

Neuralink’s endeavor is part of a broader field of BCI research, with other companies like Synchron also developing similar technologies. Unlike Neuralink, Synchron’s device does not require invasive skull surgery for implantation, showcasing the diversity of approaches within the sector​​.

While there are concerns about patients' long-term health, many of the patients recruited are quadriplegics or amputees, meaning a successful operation could drastically improve the quality of life for these individuals.

As Neuralink continues to advance, the focus on volunteer safety, data privacy and ethical considerations will be paramount. The excitement surrounding the potential of BCIs is tempered by the need for caution, thorough vetting and open dialogue about the implications of merging human cognition with artificial intelligence​​.

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This article Elon Musk's First Neuralink Patient Made A Full Recovery, But The FDA And Some Doctors Have Concerns About Patient's Long-Term Health originally appeared on Benzinga.com

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