When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Here’s how it works.

100 days with brain chip: Neuralink helped me reconnect with the world, first patient says

Image of a hand holding Neuralink implant

As we reported in late January, the first human patient finally got implanted with a brain chip from Elon Musk’s neurotechnology company Neuralink.

Now, a little over 100 days after the surgery, the company shared a progress update on how things are going for Noland Arbaugh, Neuralink’s first patient suffering from quadriplegia.

Quadriplegia is defined as the dysfunction or loss of motor and sensory function in the cervical area of the spinal cord, typically resulting in the impairment of all four limbs.

Noland received his brain chip dubbed Link as part of Neuralink’s PRIME study – an investigational medical device trial for its fully implantable, wireless brain-computer interface (BCI). The study aims to evaluate the safety of the Link implant and Neuralink’s surgical robot R1 and assess the initial functionality of BCI for enabling people with quadriplegia to control external devices with their thoughts.

In the weeks following the surgery, Noland was not only able to move a computer cursor, but also to play games like chess, Mario Kart, or Civilization VI.

On weekdays, Noland participates in research sessions for up to eight hours daily. In the remaining time and during weekends, he uses the implant for personal use. Overall, he splits his time equally between exercise and recreation.

In an update, Neuralink explains that the standard measure for speed and accuracy of cursor control is bits-per-second (BPS), calculated using a grid task shown in the X post below. The higher the result, the better.

During the very first research session, Noland reached the level of 8 BPS. However, some of the thin threads connected with his brain were retracted in the following weeks. As a result, Neuralink had to make some adjustments:

“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 These refinements produced a rapid and sustained improvement in BPS, that has now superseded Noland’s initial performance.”

Anyway, more important than the score are the benefits to Noland’s everyday life, and as he puts it, Link has helped him reconnect with the world, friends, and family, as well as giving him the ability to do things on his own again without the constant need for assistance:

“Y'all are giving me too much, it's like a luxury overload, I haven't been able to do these things in 8 years and now I don't know where to even start allocating my attention.”

Noland is now even beating his friends in games that as a quadriplegic he shouldn’t be beating them in, adding that what Link can do should give a lot of people a lot of hope.

Report a problem with article
microsoft grouome
Next Article

Microsoft's GroupMe just got a major overhaul with Copilot, a Windows 11 app and more

Microsoft Teams logo on a black background
Previous Article

Microsoft Teams Public Preview users can try out a new Presenter window for screen sharing

Join the conversation!

Login or Sign Up to read and post a comment.

14 Comments - Add comment