According to legend, the human brain is the most complex biological structure ever created. While science still does not fully comprehend the brain, researchers in the growing discipline of neuroscience have made strides. Neuroscientists have made significant progress in understanding the intricate functioning of the brain’s 85 billion neurons and the 100 trillion connections that link them. (To put this figure into perspective, the Milky Way galaxy contains upwards of 400 billion stars.)
Enter Neuralink, a Silicon Valley start-up sponsored by Elon Musk that has invented a brain-computer interface neuroprosthetic device. Musk thinks that this chip might, among other things, cure tinnitus, a neurological disorder that produces ringing in the ears, in five years. Is this, however, feasible?
WHAT EXACTLY IS NEURALINK? A precise surgical robot implants the coin-sized Neuralink gadget, known as a Link, flush with the skull. A thousand microscopic strands from the Link are connected to specific neurons by the robot. Each thread is around the size of a human hair in diameter. The gadget uses Bluetooth to connect to an external computer for continuous communication.
Neuralink prosthesis may one-day aid persons suffering from a variety of neurological illnesses involving a connection or dysfunction between the brain and the nerves that service the body, People with paraplegia, quadriplegia, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy fall into this category. Since its founding in 2016, Neuralink has been enlisting the help of top-tier neuroscientists from academia and the broader research community to create technologies to cure these diseases.
THE MONKEY FROM NEURALINK CAN PLAY PONG WITH HIS MIND, The business published a spectacular proof-of-concept video in April 2021. It featured Pager, a nine-year-old macaque monkey, effectively playing Pong with his thoughts, thanks to an implanted Neuralink device connected to a computer running the game. Pager was shown how to use a joystick to play Pong. He’d get a drink of banana smoothie if he made the right step.
The Neuralink device captured the electrical activity patterns in his brain as he performed. This revealed which neurons were in charge of specific motions. Pager was able to play the game and win using only his wits when the joystick was unplugged. Human trials to further refine the Neuralink prototype are planned to begin in the second half of 2022, pending FDA permission.