Neuralink Says Its First Brain Chip Implant Has Encountered A Problem

The problem with Neuralink's brain implant was reported by Noland Arbaugh, who received it in January this year.

Neuralink Says Its First Brain Chip Implant Has Encountered A Problem

Neuralink's implant allowed Noland Arbaugh to use his thoughts to control a computer.

Elon Musk's startup Neuralink has said that the chip it implanted in the brain of its first human patient had some issues a few weeks after the surgery. The chip was implanted in Noland Arbaugh, a quadriplegic man, who was able to play video games and online games using his mind. Neuralink's implant allows a patient to use their thoughts to control a computer. But in a blog post on Wednesday, the company said the amount of data it was receiving from the device has reduced.

Some data was lost because a number of the implant's threads retracted. Neuralink's system, called the Link, records neural signals using 1,024 electrodes across 64 threads that are "thinner than the human hair".

But after some of the threads retracted, the company's ability to measure the Link's speed and accuracy was severely impacted. Neuralink, however, did not disclose how many threads retracted from the tissue.

"In response to this change, we modified the recording algorithm to be more sensitive to neural population signals, improved the techniques to translate these signals into cursor movements, and enhanced the user interface. These refinements produced a rapid and sustained improvement in BPS (bits per second) that has now superseded Noland's initial performance," the company said in the blog post.

It added that despite the retraction of threads, Mr Arbaugh is using the company's system for around eight hours a day during the week, and often as many as 10 hours a day on the weekends.

The problem with the implant was reported by Mr Arbaugh himself, according to Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Neuralink considered removing the implant, as per the outlet, but the problem hasn't posed a direct risk to the man's safety.

Neuralink shared its blog post after the Journal asked the company about the issue, according to the outlet.

The device was implanted in January 2024 and Neuralink streamed a live video with Mr Arbaugh in March. The company had said that the surgery went "extremely well".