Elon Musk's brain chip startup Neuralink has announced that it has received approval from an independent review board to begin recruiting patients for its first human trial.

The company is seeking paralyzed people to test its experimental device in a six-year study.

Neuralink is one of the few companies developing a brain-computer interface (BCI) that can collect and analyze brain signals.


But Musk's promises to develop an all-encompassing brain computer to help humans keep up with artificial intelligence have raised doubts and raised ethical concerns among neuroscientists and other experts.

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration denied the company's request to accelerate human trials, but in May approved Neuralink for an investigational device exemption (IDE), which allows a device to be used for clinical trials.


Neuralink says it is looking for patients with quadriplegia due to vertical spinal cord injury or ALS.

Participants will have a BCI surgically implanted using a proprietary robot in a region of the brain that controls movement, with the aim of enabling them to control a computer cursor or keyboard using only their thoughts. The study will evaluate the safety and functionality of the technology, according to a statement.


Former employees of the company have said of the animal experiments that the device was implanted in pigs in the wrong position, causing the animals to die.

The allegations have triggered several investigations, including investigations by the Department of Agriculture into animal abuse and the Department of Transportation into the misuse of biohazardous materials across state lines.

The company did not clarify when and where the trial would take place or how many participants it would involve.

If the device proves safe for human use, it could still take years before it is approved for patients outside the trial.