First human patient of Elon Musk’s brain chip playing video games with mind control


Noland Arbaugh, the first person to receive a brain implant from Neuralink, demonstrated the technology’s potential by playing video games and chess using only his thoughts. The nine-minute video, which Elon Musk‘s company first hosted live on X, shows Arbaugh playing video games.

Arbaugh, a 29-year-old paralyzed man and self-proclaimed fan of the X-Men character Charles Xavier, expressed gratitude for the Neuralink technology, which has allowed him to rediscover his passion for gaming. “The surgery was super easy,” Arbaugh said in the video streamed on Musk’s social media platform X. “I literally was released from the hospital a day later. I have no cognitive impairments.”

The Neuralink patient demonstrated the device’s capabilities by moving a cursor around a laptop screen, pausing an on-screen music player, and playing online chess. He also mentioned that the implant has enabled him to enjoy marathon gaming sessions, including an eight-hour stint playing Civilization VI, which would have been impossible due to his paralysis.

“I had basically given up playing that game,” Arbaugh said, referring to Civilization VI, “you all [Neuralink] gave me the ability to do that again and played for eight hours straight.”

To control the computer, Arbaugh learned to control the cursor intuitively by simply imagining its movements. He initially focused on differentiating between the attempted and imagined movements of his left and right hands. Eventually, he likened the experience to “Force Manipulation” from the Star Wars franchise.

Neuralink received FDA approval in the fall of 2023 and began recruiting patients for its first-in-human clinical trial. However, the company has shared few details about the trial’s scope and nature, and the study is not yet made public.


As the first-ever Neuralink patient, Arbaugh remains optimistic about the future of technology but acknowledges that there is still much work to be done. “It’s not perfect, I would say that we have run into some issues,” Arbaugh said. “I don’t want people to think that this is the end of the journey, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but it has already changed my life.”


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