We introduce a new adaptive time-frequency plane feature extraction strategy for the segmentation and classification of electroencephalogram (EEG) corresponding to left and right hand motor imagery of a brain-computer interface task. The proposed algorithm adaptively segments the time axis by dividing the EEG data into non-uniform time segments over a dyadic tree. This is followed by grouping the expansion coefficients in the frequency axis in each segment. The most discriminative features are selected from the segmented time-frequency plane and fed to a linear discriminant for classification. The proposed algorithm achieved an average classification accuracy of 84.3% on six subjects by selecting the most discriminant subspaces for each one. For comparison, classification results based on an autoregressive model are also presented where the mean accuracy of the same subjects turned out to be 79.5%. Interestingly the subjects and two hemispheres of each subject are represented by distinct segmentations and features. This indicates that the proposed method can handle inter-subject variability when constructing brain-computer interfaces. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.