'Last month a team of scientists affiliated with Elon Musk’s Neuralink project published a paper identifying a new technique for inserting probes into brains. The study was published in a journal called BioRxiv, and according to Bloomberg, all five of its authors have been associated with Nueralink. It was noted at the end of the study that the research was funded through a DARPA Contract.
The team is developing this technique in hopes of building technology that is capable of monitoring brain activity. The study has been deemed “the ‘sewing machine’ for minimally invasive neural recording,” since the technique works sort of like a sewing machine.
“Here, we demonstrate the feasibility and scalability of this approach with a system incorporating fine and flexible thin-film polymer probes, a fine and stiff insertion needle, and a robotic insertion machine. Together the system permits rapid and precise implantation of probes, each individually targeted to avoid observable vasculature and to attain diverse anatomical targets,” the study says.
In the study, researchers implanted arrays of electrodes in the brains of rats and then recorded their responses.
The researchers concluded:
“We have repeatedly and reliably implanted our thin, flexible electrodes in both agarose tissue proxy and the brains of rats.”
An alarming detail of the study is that the procedure was carried out by none other than a robot.
“Because the whole insertion process is automated and the robot can move quickly, per-thread insertion times were quite short. Indeed, other than the needle insertion, which is performed at 0.1-2 mm/s, robot movements are rapid, up to 100 mm/s. This allows for the per-thread insertion cycle times of less than 9 seconds. Such rapid insertion allows for large numbers of electrodes to be inserted in a practical surgical timeframe,” the study indicated.'
Read more: Elon Musk-Linked Scientists Are Developing Brain Probes for DARPA