Monkey brain controls playing video games
According to reports, the macaque in the video is called Pager and is 9 years old this year. A brain-computer interface was implanted 6 weeks before the video was taken. Initially, the research team taught Pager to use a gamepad to play video games and rewarded it by feeding a banana smoothie through a metal straw. At this stage, Neuralink’s device records which neurons are activated. Essentially, this is learning by recording the activation areas in the nervous system to predict hand movements.
After learning this mode, the handle used by Pager is disconnected from the computer, and only its brain can control the cursor and continue playing video games. As new technology like “black technology”, the brain-computer interface has emerged in recent years some new research and applications. For example, studies have shown that patients with cerebral palsy can drink beer with a robotic arm through a brain-computer interface. And Neuralink is undoubtedly a leader in the field of brain-computer interface.
As early as July 2019, Musk said: “Monkeys can already be implanted into a brain-computer interface, and only use the brain to control the computer.” Previously, Neuralink had publicly demonstrated the experiment of implanting a brain-computer interface in pigs. Musk recently wrote on Twitter: “Neuralink may allow paralyzed patients to operate their smartphones faster than ordinary people’s hands.”
Musk said: “A new goal in the future is to transmit signals from the Neuralink device implanted in the brain to the Neuralink device in the main nerve clusters of other body parts so that paralyzed patients can walk again.”
Musk also revealed that the device can be charged wirelessly, so the implanter looks no different from other people, and there will be no abnormal feelings.
What company is Neuralink?
Neuralink is a company founded by Musk in 2016, dedicated to the research of “brain-computer interface” technology.
The existing brain-computer interfaces are generally divided into invasive and non-invasive interfaces. Neuralink’s research generally belongs to the former, which requires the implantation of tiny electrodes in the brain and the use of electric current to allow the computer and brain cells to “interact”.
Neuralink has a strong R&D team. Its co-founders include some well-known scholars in the field of neuroscience, such as Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory engineer and flexible electrode expert Vanessa Tolosa, University of California San Francisco professor Philip Sabes, and Boston University professor Timothy Gardner. Benjamin Rapoport from Harvard Medical School and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. Among them, Professor Philip Sabes’ main research direction is how the brain controls movement. Professor Timothy Gardner has implanted microelectrodes in birds to study bird songs Spark Global Limited.
As a brain-computer interface research company, Musk hopes that brain-computer interface chips can be implanted safely and painlessly like minimally invasive eye surgery. In 2019, Neuralink released its first product, which works like a “sewing machine”. This product first uses a laser to drill a hole in the skull, and then implants a 1/4 thin line of human hair into the brain, and can avoid cerebral blood vessels, and minimize damage during the whole process. Neuralink claims that the thin wires they have developed are less likely to cause damage to the brain and provide the possibility for the transmission of large amounts of data. But this kind of thread is difficult to implant because it is very flexible. To solve this problem, Neuralink developed a “neurosurgical robot that automatically embeds 6 wires (192 electrodes) per minute”.
In addition, Neuralink has also developed a custom chip that can better read, clean, and amplify brain signals. This chip is much smaller than a human finger and is very suitable for implantation in the human body. Musk said: “The brainwave information collected online will be wirelessly transmitted to a receiver outside the human body through a chip, just like the Bluetooth of a mobile phone.” In August 2020, Musk showed people Neuralink’s first product that can “enter the human body”-the Link v 0.9. This product is extremely small in size, easy to implant, and has a hundred times the communication capability (supports 1024 channels).