GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

Neuralink Claims First Human Patient Is Playing Runescape, Slay The Spire In His Head

100 days after receiving the implant, its 29-year-old quadriplegic recipient is reportedly out-performing his friends in various games.


After becoming the first human to receive Neuralink's N1 implant back in January, 29-year-old quadriplegic Noland Arbaugh is reportedly playing Old School Runescape, Slay The Spire, and a number of other popular games using the implant and signals from his brain.

"I'm beating my friends in games that, as a quadriplegic, I should not be beating them in," Arbaugh said in a recent Neuralink blog post, adding, "Y'all are giving me too much, it's like a luxury overload. I haven't been able to do these things in 8 years, and now I don't know where to even start allocating my attention."

Arbaugh, who was left paralyzed from the shoulders down after a 2016 car accident, previously depended on an assistive device known as a mouth stick--a tool that allows users to operate a touchscreen when placed in the mouth, but wasn't satisfied with the device, as he needed a caregiver nearby if he wanted to use it, and using the mouth stick also carried the risk of developing side-effects like pressure sores and muscle spasms. Additionally, he couldn't speak while using the device.

"The biggest thing with comfort is that I can lie in my bed and use [the N1]," Arbaugh explained. "Any other assistive technology had to have someone else help or have me sit up. Sitting causes stress mentally and on my body which would give me pressure sores or spasms. [The implant] lets me live on my own time, not needing to have someone adjust me throughout the day."

But not everything has gone according to plan. Per Neuralink's blog post, a number of the implant's threads retracted from Arbaugh's brain in the weeks following surgery, leading to a net decrease in the number of effective electrodes. This ultimately resulted in a reduction in bits-per-second (BPS) processed by the implant, but Neuralink says the issue has been resolved.

"In response to this change, we modified the recording algorithm to be more sensitive to neural population signals, improved the techniques to translate these signals into cursor movements, and enhanced the user interface," reads the blog post, which was written by the scientists involved in Neuralink's Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface (PRIME) study. "These refinements produced a rapid and sustained improvement in BPS, that has now superseded Noland's initial performance."

According to Arbaugh, Neuralink's N1 brain-computer interface (BCI) has drastically improved his quality of life, without the drawbacks he experienced when using the mouth stick. According to the Neuralink blog post, he recently clocked in 69 hours of BCI use in a single week, with 34 of those hours spent on recreational activities like gaming. In addition to Runescape and Slay The Spire, Arbaugh has also been playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Sid Meier's Civilization 6.

"I think [the implant] should give a lot of people a lot of hope for what this thing can do for them, first and foremost their gaming experience, but then that'll translate into so much more and I think that's awesome," Arbaugh said of the N1's potential for quality-of-life improvement in patients suffering paralysis.

Arbaugh recently uploaded footage of himself using the N1 implant on Twitter, showing followers how he uses his mind to move the cursor. Neuralink is reportedly working on ways to improve the N1 implant's gaming compatibility.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 19 comments about this story