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BCI Startup Implants First Device in U.S. Patient

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Synchron CEO Thomas Oxley holding a stentrode.

Dr. Shahram Majidi, the neurointerventional surgeon who performed the implantation, described it as "special because of its implications and huge potential."

Credit: Bryan Anselm/Bloomberg Businessweek

Brain-computer interface (BCI) startup Synchron implanted a wire-electrode combination in the brain of a U.S. patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, attempting to enable the patient to perform thought-powered Web surfing, email, and texting.

A catheter is used to insert the stentrode implant into the brain through the jugular vein.

As the catheter is removed, the stentrode's mesh opens and fuses with the outer edges of a blood vessel in the brain’s motor cortex; the surgeon then wires the implant to a computing device in the patient's chest.

The stentrode interprets signals detected by electrodes in the implant when neurons fire in the brain, which the chest device amplifies and transmits to a computer or smartphone via Bluetooth.

Signal strength improves over time, and software analyzes and matches patterns of brain data to follow the patient's commands.

From Bloomberg
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