A recent investigation has unveiled a harrowing incident involving the results of Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain implant trial on macaque monkeys, sparking a debate about if the technology is ready for human trials. In one gruesome incident, the implant caused a monkeys brain to “rupture,” leading to its untimely death.
Wired reports that an implant trial conducted by Elon Musk’s Neuralink at the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) at UC Davis has come under scrutiny for causing severe cerebral swelling and subsequent brain rupture in a female macaque monkey. The seven-year-old primate experienced “severe neurological defects” and endured a notably painful 24 hours, during which it “seized and vomited, lost control of her right leg, and shook uncontrollably,” before being euthanized to end its suffering. A postmortem examination revealed that adhesive leakage from the implant had inflamed a part of the brain that secretes cerebrospinal fluid, causing such severe effects that the rear of the monkey’s brain protruded from its skull.
Wired has previously reported on the horrific conditions of the monkeys used in Neuralink tests:
Additional veterinary reports show the condition of a female monkey called “Animal 15” during the months leading up to her death in March 2019. Days after her implant surgery, she began to press her head against the floor for no apparent reason; a symptom of pain or infection, the records say. Staff observed that though she was uncomfortable, picking and pulling at her implant until it bled, she would often lie at the foot of her cage and spend time holding hands with her roommate.
Animal 15 began to lose coordination, and staff observed that she would shake uncontrollably when she saw lab workers. Her condition deteriorated for months until the staff finally euthanized her. A necropsy report indicates that she had bleeding in her brain and that the Neuralink implants left parts of her cerebral cortex “focally tattered.”
The latest incident was recognized as a violation of the US Animal Welfare Act by federal regulators, though the CNPRC attempted to mitigate legal implications by self-reporting the violation. An anonymous former Neuralink employee stated, “the implant itself did not cause death. We sacrificed her to end her suffering.”
The surface of the brain is highly vascularized, and avoiding blood vessels when implanting electrodes is no small feat! Fluorescent dye imaging can allow our robot to resolve smaller vessels and distinguish between arteries (red) and veins (blue) in this false color image ???????? pic.twitter.com/NB99OXgjFp
— Neuralink (@neuralink) October 10, 2023
The ethical concerns are further exacerbated by the withholding of photographic evidence from the trials. Ethics groups, such as the Physicians Committee, have pressed for the release of hundreds of photos documenting Neuralink’s experiments, arguing that as a public institution, UC Davis is obligated to maintain transparency. The institution, however, has resisted these calls, asserting that the public is not equipped to properly interpret the photographs and that the backlash could endanger scientists and discourage them from taking such photos in the future.
The PRIME Study, an acronym for Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface, is set to meticulously investigate three integral components of Neuralink’s system. The first is the N1 implant, a brain-computer device. The second component under examination is the R1 robot, a surgical entity responsible for implanting the device. Lastly, the study will delve into the N1 User App, software that interprets brain signals and converts them into computer actions.
Neuralink is extending its recruitment to individuals over the age of 22, diagnosed with quadriplegia due to vertical spinal cord injury or ALS, and those who have a consistent and reliable caregiver. The company claims it is committed to ensuring the safety and efficacy of all three parts of the system, striving to make substantial advancements in the field of neurotechnology.
@thunderf00t Have you seen Elon Muskd (#elonmusk ) reinventing amd stealing again NEURALINK?
Have you seen Resident Evil "The Final Chapter".
Elon just stole that as well from…a…fxng…movie. pic.twitter.com/TgvQHYnP1n
— RussMusk(t)Go (@RussBlat) October 10, 2023
— MetaMona.eth (@MetaMona_) October 2, 2023
— Doña_Tormenta (@DonaTormenta) October 7, 2023