Elon Musk has claimed the first human patient implanted with his wireless Neuralink brain chip can move a computer cursor ‘just by thinking’.

‘Progress is good, and the patient seems to have made a full recovery, with neural effects that we are aware of,’ Musk said in a Spaces event X.

‘Patient is able to move a mouse around the screen by just thinking.’

Musk said Neuralink, a company working to develop a brain-computer interface (BCI) that can be poked into human brains, is now trying to get as many mouse button clicks as possible from the patient.

Neuralink wedged its first product, called Telepathy, in a person last month.

Musk, the billionaire chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, said Telepathy’s initial users will be those with paralysis.

This video grab made from the online Neuralink livestream shows the Neuralink disk implant held by Elon Musk (Picture: AFP)© Provided by Metro

The dream, Musk says, is to help make phone and computer control possible outside of a lab setting. (Similar earlier tests have involved people being connected to a computer with a cord.)

It’s hoped users will be able to control electronic devices ‘just by thinking’.

The company does not have approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to sell the device but was given the green light for human trials after officials evaluated its safety risks.

Volunteers for the first human clinical trials are ‘open’, Neuralink says, for people with limited or no use of both hands due to a cervical spine injury or a neurological disorder that affects nerve cells called neurological disorder that affects nerve cells

‘This study involves placing a small, cosmetically invisible implant in a part of the brain that plans movements,’ Neuralink’s website reads.

‘The device is designed to interpret a person’s neural activity, so they can operate a computer or smartphone by simply intending to move – no wires or physical movement are required.’

Neuralink has, however, been hit with criticism for alleged animal mistreatment during earlier trials (Picture: Angga Budhiyanto/ZUMA Press Wire)© Provided by Metro

Subjects in the company’s PRIME study -  short for Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface – have a coin-sized chip surgically inserted by a robot in a part of the brain that controls movement intention.

The tiny computer, called N1, contains 64 flexible polymer threads that provide 1,024 sites for recording brain activity.

Over time, the software associates particular neurons firing off with the person imagining themselves doing the task – it then makes this a reality for them.

Experts say that the technology is still rather far off and won’t be on the market for a good few years.

Neuralink may also have to slow down a bit, Dr Mhairi Aitken, an ethics research fellow at The Alan Turing Institute, told Metro.co.uk.

A robot inserts the brain-computer interface (BCI) into the person (Picture: AFP)© Provided by Metro

‘The advances with Neuralink are worrying in that they appear to be moving forward at a rapid pace without a great deal of transparency and without the usual scientific oversight,’ he said.

‘AI offers great potential in assistive technologies for people with disabilities but it needs to be developed responsibly and cautiously.

‘The vision that this technology will enable people in the future to connect with machines and communicate with AI, drives a type of innovation that risks making humans more machine-like rather than focussing on creating AI to support and help humans in their lives today.’

Long-term studies are needed to ensure the devices are safe and ethical, with worries of the immediate impact of the device – think strokes and vasculature damage – being the ones to watch.

Neuralink’s study brochure says that volunteers will be followed for five years.

How transparent the study is has also come under fire. It’s nowhere to be found on ClinicalTrials.gov, the US National Institutes of Health’s online registry.

In 2022, animal rights groups alleged Neuralink ‘mutilated monkey brains’, while the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine non-profit accused it of conducting ‘invasive and deadly’ experiments on primates.

With all these worries, doubts and criticisms, Musk showing off the chip’s computer cursor-wiggling powers isn’t a surprising one, says Dr Andrew Jackson, a professor of neural interfaces at Newcastle University’s Biosciences Institute.

‘What we don’t know is whether their BCI, is performing better than previous technologies that have been used to do this kind of thing, and that would require seeing their data and ideally publishing results from their studies,’ he told Metro.co.uk.

‘But it sounds plausible and a sensible thing that they would want to show having implanted the device.’

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