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Neuralink brain-chip venture mulls tests on rodents

Optogenetic rat
An optical-fiber device shoots pulses of light into the brain of a transgenic rat to study its behavior when specific sets of neurons are stimulated. (Northern Michigan University Photo)

If Neuralink, the brain-chip company backed by billionaire Elon Musk, ever wants to hook up minds and machines, it’ll have to test the technology on animals first.

Today Gizmodo reports that the California-based venture is already looking into animal testing, and may have funded some experiments already.

That assessment is based on a permit for using lab animals that Neuralink received from California state officials, plus a letter sent to San Francisco city planners that referred to building “a small operating room for in vivo testing, and a small room to house rodents.”

Gizmodo says there’s no evidence that Neuralink has gone ahead with the building plans, let alone the animal tests. However, a representative of the University of California at Davis is quoted as confirming that Neuralink is sponsoring research there.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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