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An integrated brain-machine interface platform with thousands of channels

By Elon Musk, Neuralink

Posted 17 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/703801

Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) hold promise for the restoration of sensory and motor function and the treatment of neurological disorders, but clinical BMIs 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 BMI system. We have built arrays of small and flexible electrode “threads”, with as many as 3,072 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 3,072 channels occupies less than (23 × 18.5 × 2) mm3. 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 BMI has unprecedented packaging density and scalability in a clinically relevant package.

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