The human brain consists of a hundred billion neurons that ultimately result in consciousness and self-awareness. It doesn't require much gray matter to appreciate the complexity of this process. In his fascinating study of this experience, Dr. Gerald M. Edelman attempts to answer the challenging question: How can the firing of neurons give rise to human sensations, thoughts and emotions (p. xii)? As a Nobel laureate, the Director of the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, and author of several important studies on consciousness, Dr. Edelman certainly has the credentials. He recognizes his subject is a challenging one, and has written WIDER THAN THE SKY for "the general reader" (with no background in neurobiology, like me), who is willing to expend "a concentrated effort" to understand the subject, promising readers who stick with him on his trip through the human brain a "deeper insight into issues that are the center of human concern" (p.xi).
In his short, 148-page book (exclusive of the glossary and index), Dr. Edelman first considers global brain theory encompassing evolution, development, and function of the most complex of human organs. He basically proposes that in the transition between reptiles and birds and reptiles and mammal, a new reciprocal connectivity evolved in the thalamocortical system of the brain (p. 54), and that consciousness then emerged from increasingly complex and integrated neuronal groups. In the end, WIDER THAN THE SKY provides readers with a concise, scientific explanation of consciousness unique to humans.