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Spatial filtering for EEG feature extraction and classification is an important tool in brain-computer interface. However, there is generally no established theory that links spatial filtering directly to Bayes classification error. To address this issue, this paper proposes and studies a Bayesian analysis theory for spatial filtering in relation to Bayes error. Following the maximum entropy principle, we introduce a gamma probability model for describing single-trial EEG power features. We then formulate and analyze the theoretical relationship between Bayes classification error and the so-called Rayleigh quotient, which is a function of spatial filters and basically measures the ratio in power features between two classes. This paper also reports our extensive study that examines the theory and its use in classification, using three publicly available EEG data sets and state-of-the-art spatial filtering techniques and various classifiers. Specifically, we validate the positive relationship between Bayes error and Rayleigh quotient in real EEG power features. Finally, we demonstrate that the Bayes error can be practically reduced by applying a new spatial filter with lower Rayleigh quotient.