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  • JM Wesierski

Neuralink-Technology Breakdown

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Recently, for a discussion on Advanced Mental Health Technology, I presented a breakdown of research done by Elon Musk and the Neuralink program for my Technology and Mental Health (TEAM) lab.

Neuralink is an implantable chip and surgical machine that allows for a brain computer interface. It is at the forefront of neuroscience technology for a number of reasons which will be discussed below. I will break down this technology by what it can do, the future this technology could bring, and what is holding it back. This breakdown is based on Elon Musk and Neuralink's research paper An Integrated Brain-Machine Interface Platform With Thousands of Channels.

Check out the first two minutes (or longer) of their most recent public experiment with 3 pigs (14 mins).

Invasive Chip
Surgical Machine


What is Neuralink?

  • Both Chip and Machine

  • High speed and extremely precise surgical tool

  • Invasive microchip (Interior of the head)

  • Brain-Computer Interface (like non-invasive Muse or EEG)

  • Open loop/real time communication and monitoring (continuous)

What could this technology do?

  • Improve brain surgery

  • Neurorehabilitation of sensory and motor disabilities

  • Cognitive state evaluations

  • Detecting hidden information

    • Help patients resistant to drug therapy

    • Help control seizures by (as the paper focuses on)

    • Applying stimulation to interrupt and prevent epileptic seizures

    • Enhancing pre-epileptic recognition

    • Reducing false positive stimulations

What is the future of this technology?

  • Neurocommunication

    • Basically Telekeinesis

  • Advanced assistive technologies for paralyzed persons

    • Control over wheelchairs, exoskeletons, and robotic manipulation

  • Manipulation through brain activity

    • Control external devices

    • Interact with environment (such as Smart Home or Internet)

What is holding it back?

*These metrics are still better than other similar technology

  • It's Expensive & Experimental

    • Surgery costs about $10 to 20 million

    • Mainly tested on rats and pigs

  • Takes a large number of channels

    • Needs to take in lots of data coming from many different areas

  • Surgical Difficulties

    • The brain is very complicated and very hard to dissect

  • Biocompatibility-

    • Our brains don't like technology interfering

  • Stimulation (like for seizures)

    • Stimulation through all channels

    • Simultaneous stimulation

Graphic of chip in brain

Further discussion / food for thought:

Ethical concerns such as should we tamper with the brain or unwanted manipulation (hacking)?

How will neural enhancement affect areas like science, sports, art and more? Cheating?

How will this affect the wage gap given that the best will only be available for the rich? Only the rich can be enhanced.

Could cause malfunction or radiation problems

Efficacy of off brand products. (back alley neuroimplants).

Breakdown from the commentary From Novel Technology to Novel Applications: Comment on “An Integrated Brain-Machine Interface Platform With Thousands of Channels” by Elon Musk and Neuralink by Alexander N. Pisarchik PhD, Vladimir A. Maksimenko PhD and Alexander E Hramov PhD, SD.

What are your ideas on Neuralink? Comment below!


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