First human Neuralink patient controlling a computer with his thoughts

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He said the surgery to get the brain implant created by Elon Musk’s company was “super easy.”

Earlier this year, Elon Musk announced that the first human patient had received a Neuralink brain implant as part of the company’s first clinical trial. Now, the company has shared a brief public demo of the brain-computer interface (BCI) in action.

The company briefly live streamed a demo on X with a 29-year-old man named Nolan Arbaugh, who said he was paralyzed from the neck down after a diving accident eight years ago. In the video, Arbaugh explains that after receiving the implant — he said the surgery was “super easy” — he had to learn how to differentiate “imagined movement versus attempted movement” in order to learn to control a cursor on a screen.

“A lot of what we started out with was attempting to move,” Arbaugh said. “I would attempt to move, say, my right hand left, right forward, back. And from there, I think it just became intuitive for me to start imagining the cursor moving.”

In the clip, which also features a Neuralink engineer, Arbaugh demonstrates the BCI by moving a cursor around the screen of a laptop, and pausing an on-screen music player. He said the implant has allowed him to play chess and Civilization VI. He noted that he has previously used other assistive devices like mouthsticks, but that the Neuralink implant has enabled longer gaming sessions, as well as online play. He said that he can get about eight hours of use before the implant needs to recharge (it’s not clear how charging works).

Arbaugh became the first human patient to receive the implant in January after Neuralink began recruiting patients last year. The company previously tested the BCI in animals, including chimps, and some of its animal testing practices have been the subject of federal investigations.

In the video, Arbaugh indicated his experience with the brain implant has so far been positive, despite some initial issues. “It’s not perfect, I would say that we have run into some issues,” he said. “I don’t want people to think that this is the end of the journey. There’s a lot of work to be done, but it has already changed my life.”

About Faisal Ebrahim

Tech enthusiast, IT & Cybersecurity consultant & Sales manager. I'm passionate about staying ahead of the curve on emerging technologies, including EVs, AI, robotics, and the metaverse. For over 15 years, I've explored and shared these innovations on my blog,

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