Investigation Uncovers Disturbing Details of Neuralink Monkey Study

Elon Musk and his biotech company Neuralink made headlines recently as multiple news organizations reported on requests for the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Musk’s claim that monkeys who perished in brain implant trials were already terminally ill and did not die “as a result of a Neuralink implant.” The study was conducted at the University of California, Davis, a public university. 

An investigation by Wired, which includes veterinary records, contradicts Musk’s claims. As Wired reported, the investigation uncovered what regulators acknowledge was at least one violation of the Animal Welfare Act in which, at the request of a Neuralink scientist, staff delayed euthanizing a monkey suffering from a “severe neurological defect.” An autopsy showed that the experiment “deformed and ruptured her brain,” leaving it poking “out of the base of her skull.” Employees reported “poor planning and poor procedure,” especially early in the study. For more than a year, UC Davis has fought against disclosing photographs related to Neuralink’s work. 

Despite these concerns, Neuralink reported in September that it received approval from a review board to begin recruitment for human trials of the implant in quadriplegic and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients.