Madrid, 9 (Europe Press)
Neuralink, the brain-machine interface that Elon Musk paralyzes people to power computers and mobile devices, was implanted into a monkey for playing a mind-pong game.
In a video posted on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsCul1sp4hQ), this company introduces a macaque monkey, called Pager, that moves a cursor on a computer screen with nervous activity using a device. Data transfer and neural recording of 1,024 fully implanted electrodes, called N1 Link.
The researchers implanted the joint in the hand and arm regions of the motor cortex, which is the part of the brain involved in planning and implementing movements. They put bilateral ties: one in the left motor cortex (which controls movements on the right side of the body) and the other in the right motor cortex (which controls the left side of the body).
Neurons in the somatosensory cortex respond to touch and nerve cells in the visual cortex respond to visual signals. Likewise, neurons in the motor cortex modulate their activity before and during movement and are believed to be involved in planning, initiating and controlling voluntary movements, Neuralink explains in a statement.
Many neurons in the motor cortex are tuned directionally, that is, they are more active than others in certain directions of movement. Different neurons are tuned in different directions of movement.
By modeling the relationship between the different patterns of neural activity and the expected directions of movement, a model (i.e. ‘decoder calibration’) can be constructed that can predict the direction and velocity of future or expected movement.
Neuralink explains: “We can go beyond just predicting the most likely expected movement due to the current pattern of brain activity: We can use these predictions to monitor the movements of a computer cursor in real time, or in the MindPong video.”
Neurons with preferred directions upward apparently increase firing speeds when the monkey moves its MindPong bar up, and those with preferred directions downward increase the firing speed when the pager moves its bar down.
With monkeys, we calibrated the decoder by mapping patterns of neural activity with actual movements (joystick). However, those in charge of the experiment indicate that they will not be able to use this strategy for paralyzed people.
Previous research from the BrainGate Consortium showed that neurons in the motor cortex remain directly tuned to movement intent even in paralyzed subjects, and that it is possible to calibrate the decoder as a person imagines by simply moving the mouse on a mat or a finger on a board. “Trackpad” to direct the cursor that automatically moves to the targets displayed. Once the decoder is calibrated, a person can write emails and text messages, surf the web, or anything else that can be done with a computer, simply by thinking of how the pointer moves.