Event-related potential (ERP) based brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) employ differences in brain responses to attended and ignored stimuli. When using a tactile ERP-BCI for navigation, mapping is required between navigation directions on a visual display and unambiguously corresponding tactile stimuli (tactors) from a tactile control device: control-display mapping (CDM). We investigated the effect of congruent (both display and control horizontal or both vertical) and incongruent (vertical display, horizontal control) CDMs on task performance, the ERP and potential BCI performance. Ten participants attended to a target (determined via CDM), in a stream of sequentially vibrating tactors. We show that congruent CDM yields best task performance, enhanced the P300 and results in increased estimated BCI performance. This suggests a reduced availability of attentional resources when operating an ERP-BCI with incongruent CDM. Additionally, we found an enhanced N2 for incongruent CDM, which indicates a conflict between visual display and tactile control orientations.Practitioner Summary: Incongruency in control-display mapping reduces task performance. In this study, brain responses, task and system performance are related to (in)congruent mapping of command options and the corresponding stimuli in a brain-computer interface (BCI). Directional congruency reduces task errors, increases available attentional resources, improves BCI performance and thus facilitates human-computer interaction. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.