Neuralink Patient ‘Cried a Little Bit’ After Brain Implant Malfunction

  • Neuralink reported a malfunction in its patient’s brain-chip implant weeks after insertion.
  • Noland Arbaugh told Bloomberg he “cried a little bit” after he found out about the malfunction. 
  • He thought his “journey was coming to an end” despite getting used to using the implant. 

The first person to get a Neuralink brain implant said he “cried a little bit” after finding out there had been a malfunction with the device.

Noland Arbaugh told Bloomberg he realized the implant had malfunctioned weeks after he had the device inserted in January.

The 29-year-old said he noticed a delay between his thoughts and moving the computer cursor, and he was told by Neuralink that the device’s wires, or “threads,” had pulled away from his brain.

“At first, they didn’t know how serious it would be or a ton about it. It was really hard to hear. I thought I’d gotten to use it for maybe a month, and then my journey was coming to an end,” Arbaugh said.

Neuralink used a blog post last week to disclose the implant had malfunctioned, and give a progress update.

The implant, called “The Link,” has more than 1,000 electrodes and 64 threads, each thinner than a strand of human hair. Some of the threads pulled out of position, and The Wall Street Journal reported that the company has considered removing the device entirely.

Arbaugh added: “I thought they would just keep collecting some data but that they were really going to move on to the next person. I cried a little bit.”

Elon Musk’s neurotech firm also said in the blog it had fixed the issue and the implant was now functioning better than before.

Since Arbaugh had surgery to get it inserted, the quadriplegic has been using it to surf the web, play computer games, and control his laptop while lying in bed — something he wasn’t able to do before.

Neuralink didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.