Neuralink Helps Cure Autism and Schizophrenia by Means of New Technologies: Engre News

Find out how Neuralink helps cure autism and schizophrenia by means of new technologies and get acquainted with schemes of its working.

Neuralink Helps Cure Autism and Schizophrenia by Means of New Technologies

The general manager and creator of Tesla and SpaceX, as well as the prototype of famous Iron Man Elon Musk, is interested in conquering not only space and a market of electric vehicles. His portfolio also includes no less impressive projects, and one of them is Neuralink which is a neural interface. Recently, Musk made a fascinating statement about a new development. It turns out that Neuralink is intended to help humanity cope with autism, schizophrenia and other diseases of the brain. How? Let’s learn more about this project.

How Can Neuralink Cure?

Let us briefly recall that the mission of the Neuralink project is to design a chip with support for artificial intelligence. It can be implanted in the human brain with the goal of recording brain activity and stimulating it. Elon Musk said that Neuralink would help cope with a number of diseases and solve many problems that are referred to the work of the brain. Generally, it can include autism, schizophrenia, memory loss. As we know, memory loss becomes more and more frequent condition for a large number of people at a certain age. For instance, parents cannot remember their children, grandparents cannot remember how many grandchildren they have, etc.

This is a very commendable statement and we all hope that this project will succeed. However, after the release of this statement, Musk was criticized. And it came from the National Autistic Society of Great Britain (NAS). According to Business Insider , NAS has determined autism as not a disease or illness, therefore, there are no methods that help to “cure” it. More often than not, autism is considered to be a fundamental aspect of identity. The World Health Organization does not describe autism as a disease but as a personality disorder, thus, there is no need for “special medicine”.

In July, Neuralink first demonstrated its developments regarding the creation of a connection between the human brain and digital media. At the presentation, conducted by Musk, scientists talked about threads that had been created by the company which would be used to read information from the brain in the future. In this case, a miniature robot will be used to implant them into the brain. In the future, Neuralink hopes to learn how to read information from the brain using a laser and without surgery.

According to the presentation, during the experiments, the Neuralink developments allowed “the monkey to control the computer with its brain”. According to company representatives, they also have conducted experiments on rats. Information was read using a small digital device.

Representatives of Neuralink previously stated that they intended to apply new technologies to help paralyzed people. One possibility is to allow them to control electronic devices using implanted chips in the brain. One of these chips was shown, however, it was not explained in detail how it works.

Moreover, Elon Musk said that the new technology can be used to treat neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s, and Neuralink can also be used to correct “critical damage to the brain or spinal cord.” However, the crucial role is still the unification of human consciousness with artificial intelligence. Musk believes that we will not be able to fight with the "digital superintelligence." And since we cannot become smarter than a supercomputer, it is better not to "fight, but to join it."

More About Neuralink Project

Neuralink was incorporated in California in July 2016 with the assistance of Elon Musk. The president of the company is the American businessman Max Hodak, the executive director is Jared Birkal.

In July, representatives of Neuralink told reporters in The New York Times that the company had 90 employees, it managed to attract finance in the amount of $ 158 million.

The company will be developing neurocomputer interfaces that connect to the brain and become a "conductor" of signals between the brain and external devices. In the future, Neuralink will try to bring humanity into a new era ⏤ the era where artificial intelligence will become a part of the brain, a bottomless repository and a useful storehouse of information that will be controlled conveniently and with which you can work on an intuitive level. And we have to admit it sounds like a real future of artificial intelligence .

The company's immediate goal is to find out how special devices can be implanted into the human body, particularly in paralyzed people so they can appeal to gadgets such as computers and smartphones. After the operation, people will be able to text messages and surf the Internet with the power of thought. One of the company's goals is to come up with a method that will help implant these devices without harm. Or at least, it has to be done smoother than it is done by means of the methods used today.

For this, Neuralink has come up with flexible threads with a thickness of 4 to 6 micrometers. By the way, the diameter of human hair varies from 0.017 to 0.18 millimeters, which shows that the threads developed by the company are much thinner than human hair. This aspect is very important as this size reduces the risks of harm to the brain during implantation. Threads contain electrodes that will monitor brain activity after implantation.

Moreover, the company has designed a special neurosurgical robot to inject the threads into the brain. It is able to automatically apply six threads in a minute, containing a total of 192 electrodes.

The robot is equipped with high-quality optics that contributes to not hurting the blood vessels during surgery. Currently, the technology of engaging "filaments" requires drilling holes in the skull, but the scientists hope to use lasers and do implantation without anesthesia in the future.

However, the company has faced the problem which is the low bandwidth of signal transmission from the brain to the computer and vice versa. An early-developed Neuralink prototype uses a USB-C wired connection. However, the company intends to switch to the use of technology for wireless information transfer. To solve the problem, Neuralink is developing a special chip called N1. Its task will be to read, purify and amplify the signals coming from the brain.

As the company indicates, it is planned to install four of these chips in the human brain. The part of the brain which is responsible for motility will place three components, and one chip will be in the somatosensory area. This part of the brain is responsible for the sensations. An external device will connect all the chips wirelessly. This device can be placed behind the ear, therefore it becomes a transmitter of information between external devices and the brain. The company’s representatives plan that smartphones could be used to controlling the system.

Currently, technology tests are conducted on laboratory animals. The team of developers and scientists performed at least 19 operations on laboratory rats, successfully placing the threads using a robot surgeon in most of the cases. Moreover, the team also conducted an experiment with implanting a USB-C port on rats’ heads, which transmitted animal brain activity data to the computer. According to Neuralink, it managed to achieve 10 times faster information transfer compared to devices from other manufacturers.