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The reliable operation of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) based on spontaneous electroencephalogram (EEG) signals requires accurate classification of multichannel EEG. The design of EEG representations and classifiers for BCI are open research questions whose difficulty stems from the need to extract complex spatial and temporal patterns from noisy multidimensional time series obtained from EEG measurements. The high-dimensional and noisy nature of EEG may limit the advantage of nonlinear classification methods over linear ones. This paper reports the results of a linear (linear discriminant analysis) and two nonlinear classifiers (neural networks and support vector machines) applied to the classification of spontaneous EEG during five mental tasks, showing that nonlinear classifiers produce only slightly better classification results. An approach to feature selection based on genetic algorithms is also presented with preliminary results of application to EEG during finger movement.