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      An Integrated Brain-Machine Interface Platform With Thousands of Channels

      discussion
      1 , , Neuralink 1
      (Reviewer)
      Journal of Medical Internet Research
      JMIR Publications
      brain-machine interface, sensory function, motor function, neurology

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          Abstract

          Brain-machine interfaces hold promise for the restoration of sensory and motor function and the treatment of neurological disorders, but clinical brain-machine interfaces have not yet been widely adopted, in part, because modest channel counts have limited their potential. In this white paper, we describe Neuralink’s first steps toward a scalable high-bandwidth brain-machine interface system. We have built arrays of small and flexible electrode “threads,” with as many as 3072 electrodes per array distributed across 96 threads. We have also built a neurosurgical robot capable of inserting six threads (192 electrodes) per minute. Each thread can be individually inserted into the brain with micron precision for avoidance of surface vasculature and targeting specific brain regions. The electrode array is packaged into a small implantable device that contains custom chips for low-power on-board amplification and digitization: The package for 3072 channels occupies less than 23×18.5×2 mm 3. A single USB-C cable provides full-bandwidth data streaming from the device, recording from all channels simultaneously. This system has achieved a spiking yield of up to 70% in chronically implanted electrodes. Neuralink’s approach to brain-machine interface has unprecedented packaging density and scalability in a clinically relevant package.

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          Most cited references32

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          Fully integrated silicon probes for high-density recording of neural activity

          Sensory, motor and cognitive operations involve the coordinated action of large neuronal populations across multiple brain regions in both superficial and deep structures. Existing extracellular probes record neural activity with excellent spatial and temporal (sub-millisecond) resolution, but from only a few dozen neurons per shank. Optical Ca2+ imaging offers more coverage but lacks the temporal resolution needed to distinguish individual spikes reliably and does not measure local field potentials. Until now, no technology compatible with use in unrestrained animals has combined high spatiotemporal resolution with large volume coverage. Here we design, fabricate and test a new silicon probe known as Neuropixels to meet this need. Each probe has 384 recording channels that can programmably address 960 complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) processing-compatible low-impedance TiN sites that tile a single 10-mm long, 70 × 20-μm cross-section shank. The 6 × 9-mm probe base is fabricated with the shank on a single chip. Voltage signals are filtered, amplified, multiplexed and digitized on the base, allowing the direct transmission of noise-free digital data from the probe. The combination of dense recording sites and high channel count yielded well-isolated spiking activity from hundreds of neurons per probe implanted in mice and rats. Using two probes, more than 700 well-isolated single neurons were recorded simultaneously from five brain structures in an awake mouse. The fully integrated functionality and small size of Neuropixels probes allowed large populations of neurons from several brain structures to be recorded in freely moving animals. This combination of high-performance electrode technology and scalable chip fabrication methods opens a path towards recording of brain-wide neural activity during behaviour.
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            High-performance neuroprosthetic control by an individual with tetraplegia.

            Paralysis or amputation of an arm results in the loss of the ability to orient the hand and grasp, manipulate, and carry objects, functions that are essential for activities of daily living. Brain-machine interfaces could provide a solution to restoring many of these lost functions. We therefore tested whether an individual with tetraplegia could rapidly achieve neurological control of a high-performance prosthetic limb using this type of an interface. We implanted two 96-channel intracortical microelectrodes in the motor cortex of a 52-year-old individual with tetraplegia. Brain-machine-interface training was done for 13 weeks with the goal of controlling an anthropomorphic prosthetic limb with seven degrees of freedom (three-dimensional translation, three-dimensional orientation, one-dimensional grasping). The participant's ability to control the prosthetic limb was assessed with clinical measures of upper limb function. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01364480. The participant was able to move the prosthetic limb freely in the three-dimensional workspace on the second day of training. After 13 weeks, robust seven-dimensional movements were performed routinely. Mean success rate on target-based reaching tasks was 91·6% (SD 4·4) versus median chance level 6·2% (95% CI 2·0-15·3). Improvements were seen in completion time (decreased from a mean of 148 s [SD 60] to 112 s [6]) and path efficiency (increased from 0·30 [0·04] to 0·38 [0·02]). The participant was also able to use the prosthetic limb to do skilful and coordinated reach and grasp movements that resulted in clinically significant gains in tests of upper limb function. No adverse events were reported. With continued development of neuroprosthetic limbs, individuals with long-term paralysis could recover the natural and intuitive command signals for hand placement, orientation, and reaching, allowing them to perform activities of daily living. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, National Institutes of Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, and UPMC Rehabilitation Institute. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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              NeuroGrid: recording action potentials from the surface of the brain

              Recording from neural networks at the resolution of action potentials is critical for understanding how information is processed in the brain. Here, we address this challenge by developing an organic material-based, ultra-conformable, biocompatible and scalable neural interface array (the ‘NeuroGrid’) that can record both LFP and action potentials from superficial cortical neurons without penetrating the brain surface. Spikes with features of interneurons and pyramidal cells were simultaneously acquired by multiple neighboring electrodes of the NeuroGrid, allowing for isolation of putative single neurons in rats. Spiking activity demonstrated consistent phase modulation by ongoing brain oscillations and was stable in recordings exceeding one week. We also recorded LFP-modulated spiking activity intra-operatively in patients undergoing epilepsy surgery. The NeuroGrid constitutes an effective method for large-scale, stable recording of neuronal spikes in concert with local population synaptic activity, enhancing comprehension of neural processes across spatiotemporal scales and potentially facilitating diagnosis and therapy for brain disorders.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Med Internet Res
                J. Med. Internet Res
                JMIR
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                1439-4456
                1438-8871
                October 2019
                31 October 2019
                : 21
                : 10
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Neuralink San Francisco, CA United States
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Elon Musk
                Article
                v21i10e16194
                10.2196/16194
                6914248
                31642810
                8c707b3a-f236-4849-b6b4-3f426edc3968
                ©Elon Musk, Neuralink. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 31.10.2019.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and not altered.

                Categories
                White Paper
                White Paper

                Medicine
                brain-machine interface,sensory function,motor function,neurology
                Medicine
                brain-machine interface, sensory function, motor function, neurology

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